WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid inserted himself inadvertently into Colorado’s Senate race after a national publication reported that the Democrat disparaged Rep. Cory Gardner at a private fundraiser last Thursday.
Reid said the Colorado Republican was a “real loser,” according to Politico, which got hold of an audio recording at the event in support of a Senate Democratic hopeful. Reid concluded that Democrats would retain their majority in the upper chamber if the election were held today and criticized a few Senate Republican candidates by name, reporters Manu Raju and Burgess Everett wrote.
In addition, a political action committee made up of former Reid aides is paying $1.2 million for attack ads already on the air in Colorado against Gardner, who is running against Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Informed of Reid’s reported remark, Republican lawmakers described Reid as an arch-foe of their political and legislative efforts in Congress. They believe Reid thinks that Gardner’s candidacy is a threat to his job as the highest-ranking Democrat in Congress.
“Sen. Reid is engaging in a little political fisticuffs and as a former boxer he’s throwing a punch,” Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said, alluding to Reid’s history as an amateur boxer in Nevada. “Colorado was never on the political map and desperate times call for desperate measures.”
Added Rep. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a Republican Senate candidate: “You can expect Sen. Reid to sink too low.”
Rep. Greg Walden, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, also defended Gardner. “Where is that coming from? You could say that about some of the people here, but Cory Gardner? There are few people as thoughtful, capable, and energetic.”
Colorado Republican Rep. Scott Tipton too defended Gardner and criticized Reid’s efforts to thwart Republican legislation. “There’s going to be one winner in November, and it’s going to be Cory Gardner,” Tipton said.
“Mr. Reid has blocked all of these bills we’ve passed in the House – protect our land and water rights. Mr. Reid is the cork in the bottle for the creation of good jobs and the protection of our rights,” Tipton said.
In contrast to the effusiveness of Republican lawmakers, Colorado’s two Democratic senators were tight lipped about Reid’s remark. “I’ve never heard Sen. Reid say anything about congressman Gardner,” Sen. Michael Bennet told TCO. “I didn’t hear about it,” Udall said in an interview.
Reid, 74, had been a peripheral figure in the Colorado Senate race. In an interview three weeks ago at the Capitol, Gardner mentioned Reid by name as an implement to Republican hopes of advancing their legislation in the Senate. Senate Democrats enjoy a 55-to-45 advantage in the upper chamber.
Reid is said to think well of Udall. Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, former chairman of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, said Democrats want to help Udall in his efforts to keep his Senate seat. “He’s someone who came here with a good reputation in the House and he’s only enhanced it,” Menendez said.
“He’s someone people want to do things for. For example, I helped him with the disaster assistance with the floods and fires in Colorado,” Menendez said.
Now Reid’s comments give Republicans a cudgel to attack him as an out-of-state political leader seeking to inject himself into the race between Gardner and Udall.
A conservative House Democrat shrugged his shoulders at Reid’s remark. “Harry gets carried away sometimes,” the Democrat said.