Death – Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid passes away at 82

Death – Obituary

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), one of the most powerful figures in Washington during the Obama administration, died Tuesday after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 82 years old.

Reid’s widow, Landra, said her husband passed away “peacefully” and “surrounded by our family” before calling him “a devout family man and deeply loyal friend.”

A onetime amateur boxer and product of the Las Vegas Democratic machine, Reid spent four years in the House of Representatives before he was elected to the Senate in 1986. He spent the next 30 years in the upper chamber of Congress, serving as majority leader from 2007 until 2015.

As majority leader, Reid will be best remembered for changing the Senate rules in 2013 to lower the threshold for confirming Barack Obama’s judicial nominees from 60 votes to a simple majority.

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has passed away at the age of 82 years old.
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has passed away at the age of 82 years old.
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File

It didn’t take long for Reid’s maneuver to backfire on Democrats. Republicans regained control of the Senate in 2014 and GOP leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — who had warned Reid and his cohorts upon the rule change: “You’ll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think” — expanded the use of the so-called “nuclear option” to get all three of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominees confirmed with fewer than 60 votes.

A year before forcing the rule change through the Senate, Reid earned the enmity of many Republicans when he falsely claimed on the chamber floor during the 2012 presidential campaign that GOP nominee Mitt Romney had not paid any taxes during the previous decade.

Reid never retracted the claim or apologized for slandering Romney. When asked about the accusation in a 2015 CNN interview, Reid retorted: “Romney didn’t win, did he?”

The following year, Reid tripled down on his scurrilous claim in an interview with the Washington Post, calling it “one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was first elected to the upper chamber of Congress in 1986.
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“Here’s something I learned from my father,” Reid told the paper. “If you’re going to do something, don’t do it half-assed. Don’t play around. With the Mitt Romney stuff, I didn’t play around.”

In the same interview, when asked if there was any political line he would not cross to gain an advantage, Reid answered: “I don’t know what that line would be.”

Current Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) a longtime Reid lieutenant, called him “one of the most amazing individuals I’ve ever met” Tuesday night.

“He was my leader, my mentor, one of my dearest friends,” Schumer said in a statement. “He’s gone but he will walk by the sides of many of us in the Senate every single day.”

Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) tweeted that he was saddened by Reid’s death, but also “grateful for the friendship I had with Harry.

“We disagreed on many things, sometimes famously,” Boehner added. “But we were always honest with each other. In the years after we left public service, that honesty became a bond. Harry was a fighter until the end. RIP, my friend.”

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid famously claimed that the 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney did not pay taxes.
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Nevada Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak said in a statement that he was “heartbroken” by the news of Reid’s death.

“To say Harry Reid was a giant doesn’t fully encapsulate all that he accomplished on behalf of the state of Nevada and for Nevada families; there will never be another leader quite like Senator Reid,” Sisolak said. “To me, he was a mentor, a father figure, and someone I always trusted to give it to me straight.”

Born in Searchlight, Nev., to an alcoholic father who killed himself at 58 and a mother who served as a laundress in a bordello, Reid grew up in a small cabin without indoor plumbing and swam with other children at a pool at a local brothel. He hitchhiked to Basic High School in Henderson, 40 miles from home, where he met his wife, Landra in 1959. At Utah State University, the couple became members of The Church of Latter-Day Saints.

Reid put himself through George Washington University law school by working nights as a US Capitol police officer and was elected to the Nevada Assembly in 1968 at age 28. Two years later, he became the youngest lieutenant governor in Nevada’s history, running alongside Mike O’Callaghan — Reid’s high school history teacher.

After his election as Senate majority leader in 2007, Reid was credited with putting Nevada on the political map by pushing to move the state’s caucuses to February, at the start of the presidential nominating season. That forced each national party to pour resources into a state which, while home to the country’s fastest growth over the past two decades, still only had six votes in the Electoral College. Reid’s extensive network of campaign workers and volunteers twice helped deliver the state for Obama in the 2008 and 2012 general elections.

“I could not have accomplished what I accomplished without him being at my side,” Obama said of Reid in 2016.

The most influential politician in Nevada for more than a decade, Reid steered hundreds of millions of dollars to the state and was credited with almost single-handedly blocking construction of a nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain outside Las Vegas.

Reid died two weeks after the Las Vegas airport was renamed in his honor in recognition of his push for the development of the airport’s international arrivals annex, which opened in June 2012. Neither he nor his wife were able to attend the ceremony.

Then Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid smiles with then Vice President Joe Biden during his leadership portrait unveiling ceremony on Dec. 8, 2016.
Then Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid smiles with then Vice President Joe Biden during his leadership portrait unveiling ceremony on Dec. 8, 2016.
Getty Images

Upon his 2016 retirement after an accident left him blind in one eye, Reid hand-picked former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to run for his seat (she won), and built a political machine that helped state Democrats win a series of key elections in 2016 and 2018.

Following Reid’s lengthy farewell address to the Senate, his fellow Nevadan, Republican Dean Heller, declared: “It’s been said that it’s better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both. And as me and my colleagues here today and those in the gallery probably agree with me, no individual in American politics embodies that sentiment today more than my colleague from Nevada, Harry Mason Reid.”

With Post wires

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What Is An Obituary

In national newspapers an obituary (obit for short) is a news article that reports the recent death of a prominent person. Although it tends to focus on positive aspects of the subject’s life this is not always the case. According to Nigel Farndale, the Obituaries Editor of The Times: “Obits should be life affirming rather than gloomy, but they should also be opinionated, leaving the reader with a strong sense of whether the subject lived a good life or bad; whether they were right or wrong in the handling of their public affairs.”

In local newspapers, an obituary may be published for any local resident upon death. A necrology is a register or list of records of the deaths of people related to a particular organization, group or field, which may only contain the sparsest details, or small obituaries. Historical necrologies can be important sources of information.