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Top Democratic Senate Leader Reid to Hang Up the Gloves

Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada


Mark Stricherz - published on 03/27/15

A former boxer, Harry Reid held Senate Democrats together on historic Obamacare vote
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An amateur boxer in his youth, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada fought for and took part in key bouts in American politics in a polarized era. 

He voted against a resolution in support of Roe v. Wade in 1999 and held up a bill on human trafficking because it contained an anti-abortion provision. In 2003, he helped torpedo the nomination of Miguel Estrada who if confirmed would have given Republicans an inroad with the Hispanic political class.  In 2006, he encouraged then-Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois to run for president.  As Senate Majority Leader, in 2009 Reid held all 60 members of his caucus together to vote for the Affordable Care Act. 

Reid reveled in and promoted the image of himself as a fighter. Now 75, on Friday Reid made an announcement that echoed another boxer’s famous words: “No mas.”

According to CNN, Reid conceded through an aide that an accident on a treadmill on New Year’s Day prompted him to step down after his term ends in January 2017:

The fifth-term Nevada Democrat had denied retirement rumors for months, which grew louder after he suffered serious injuries in an exercising accident on New Year’s Day. He said in 
a video posted on Twitter and Youtube that the bruises were "nothing," but added that "this accident has caused us for the first time to have a little bit of downtime … time to ponder and to think."

"We have got to be more concerned about the country, the senate, the state of Nevada, than us. And as a result of that, I’m not going to run for reelection," he says in the video.

Reid was a top GOP target and expecting a fierce reelection fight, and he says in the video that he feels it would be "inappropriate" for him to "soak up all those resources" while Democrats have a real shot at taking back the Senate. In 
an interview with the New York Times, Reid notes that many of Democrats’ top targets are in big, expensive states, naming Pennsylvania, Missouri, Florida and Maryland as examples.

"The decision I made has absolutely nothing to do with my injury, and it has nothing to do with my being majority leader, and it certainly has nothing to do with my ability to be reelected, because the path to reelection is much easier than it probably has been any time that I’ve run for reelection," he says in the video.

A member of Reid’s staff tells CNN that the senator made the decision to retire with his family around Christmas, but told his staff that he wanted two months or so to sit on it before announcing it.

When his eye injury happened, on New Years’ Day, it became clearer to him that he should retire. He hesitated, however, because he didn’t want the decision to be seen as a result of his injury.

This aide says Reid has been telling people in private meetings that it’s not so much about how he feels physically, which he says is great — the decision was based on how he would feel in eight years, which remains an open question. Reid, the source said, doesn’t want to be one of the senators who’s perceived to have stayed in the Senate past his prime.

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