Matt Lewis

According to its website, the purpose of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is to “help Republican candidates develop the campaign resources they need for 2008 so we can re-gain the majority …”

But a former senior NRSC staffer tells me that Republicans may not be receiving as much financial support as they should, because of the collegial relationship that exists between NRSC Chairman John Ensign (R-NV) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). In fact, I'm told the Chairman has discouraged his staff from publicly attacking the Majority Leader.

This is interesting, because it seems to me that Harry Reid is a lighting rod whose name could be invoked to raise money from conservative donors. (In case you doubt he is controversial, as I write this, I notice the top story on Townhall.com is by Bob Novak, and is titled: Shame of the Senate, and is about Harry Reid, Rob Bluey just wrote Ringmaster Reid Cracks the Whip ...," and the latest HamNation is titled: Harry and the Dems Sleepover Party.) Yet, you’d have to search hard to find anything remotely negative about Harry Reid on the NRSC website.

If anyone doubts the close relation that these two Senators have (despite the fact that Ensign once narrowly lost an election to Reid), Harry Reid’s biography brags:

Reid enjoys a close working relationship with Nevada’s junior U.S. Senator, Republican John Ensign. Despite the fact that they belong to different political parties, they share a commitment to Nevada families and businesses. In fact, Senators Reid and Ensign co-host a weekly breakfast in the U.S. Capitol every Thursday that the Senate is in session, and Nevadans visiting Washington D.C. are always welcome.

And if Ensign really is taking it easy on Reid, it may be because Reid took it easy on him, in the past. The Las Vegas Review Journal wrote in 2005:

Reid has all but announced that he will not lift a finger, including, presumably, his dialing finger, to unseat his fine and good friend John Ensign. Reid's non-aggression pact with Ensign not only cuts off any Democratic challenger from serious financial support that Reid might be able to tap, but also makes it incredibly difficult for any potential candidates to convince donors that their campaign has a chance, and thus merits a contribution.

... Which makes one wonder if it's wise for the NRSC Chairman to be such good friends with the Senate Majority Leader of an opposing party.

But a pro-NRSC Republican Strategist disputes these allegations, and points out that the NRSC is focusing its resources on Democrats who are actually up for re-election this cycle. Regarding the fundraising aspect of this story, my pro-NRSC source adds: "Most people don’t know who Harry Reid is…"


Matt Lewis

Matt Lewis is conservative writer and blogger based in Alexandria, VA.

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