Salena Zito

The Burris dust-up particularly infuriated Democrats because people who know Illinois better than Reid, such as Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told him to give the green light to a special election. Reid, concerned about losing a Democrat seat in a special election, by default gave tarnished Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich the power to make the appointment.

“At the end of the day, Harry Reid is going to get re-elected,” said Phil Singer, the brains behind the Democrats' stunning Senate wins in 2006. Singer points to Democrats' significant outnumbering of Republicans in the state.

And you can’t beat someone with nothing – so, while Reid is a juicy target for Republicans, the GOP today has no one to carry the ball.

“If you look at the opportunities that Republicans have for the next cycle, if (Reid) is not at the top of the list, he sure is No. 2,” said Republican strategist Glen Bolger.

Bolger dismisses Republican weaknesses and points to recently defeated Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., as a credible candidate: “The only reason he lost is that it was a terrible year to be a Republican across the country and in that state.”

Fair enough: Plenty of candidates have bounced back from defeat to win higher offices. “Had Porter won, Reid would already be in a serious fight,” said Herzik.

Another guy on the bench is Nevada’s Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who has already announced his candidacy for the Senate. Too bad that -- a week after his announcement -- he was indicted.

“This indictment stinks,” Herzik said. “It is a political indictment by a Democratic state attorney general that is a Reid loyalist.”

Ralston warns anyone who stands in Reid’s way that he “is totally ruthless and Machiavellian. ... He will do everything he can to keep anybody viable out of this race, because he knows he is in big trouble.”

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.