(Updated at 2:26 p.m. on Jan. 20, 2010)
CARSON CITY – Nevada State Republican Party Chairman Chris Comfort said today that the upset GOP victory in the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts on Tuesday is a sign of a Renaissance for Republican candidates around the country and in Nevada.
It also means bad news for U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., both for his reelection campaign this year and his efforts to get health care legislation passed through Congress, he said.
The surprise victory is also a referendum on the performance of President Obama, who won Massachusetts by a huge margin in November 2008, Comfort said.
“Now we’ve seen a complete reversal,” he said in a conference call with reporters. “We do not envision them pulling out from this fast approaching trough, if you will.”
The victory of Scott Brown in the Massachusetts special election to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy means Democrats will no longer have the 60 votes needed to control debate and votes in the Senate.
Reid, in his response to the election, welcomed Brown to the Senate and said he will move to seat him as soon as the proper paperwork has been received. But even with the change in party dynamics, Senate Democrats will continue to work to strengthen the economy, create good-paying jobs and ensure Americans have access to affordable health care, he said.
“We hope that Scott Brown will join us in these efforts,” Reid said. “There is much work to do to address the problems Democrats inherited last year, and we plan to move full speed ahead.”
“Regardless of the size of their minority caucus, Senate Republicans have always had an obligation to join us in governing our nation through these difficult times,” he said. “[Tuesday’s] election doesn’t change that; in fact it is now more important than before for Republicans to work with us rather than against us if we are to find common ground that improves Americans’ lives.”
Several Nevada Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate seat held by Reid also weighed in on the election, urging Reid to seat Brown right away.
Concerns were this morning expressed by some Republicans that there may be a delay in seating Brown so Democrats could hold on to their 60-vote majority for as long as possible.
Candidate Sue Lowden, speaking at an event in Pahrump, said: “I call on Harry Reid to immediately seat (Brown) in the United States Senate so the people of Massachusetts have a voice and proper representation during these challenging times.”
Candidate John Chachas said of Brown’s victory: “The voters of Massachusetts have spoken in force today and their voice carries a message far beyond their own state borders. With the election victory of Scott Brown this evening all eyes now shift to Nevada’s Senator Harry Reid.”
Chachas also said Reid should seat Brown in the U.S. Senate in an expeditious manner, “so his voice and vote can be included in the national dialogue of important decisions…including healthcare.”
Candidate Danny Tarkanian said: “Tonight, the people of Massachusetts have spoken for the people of America, including the grassroots voters of Nevada right here: ‘No more bailouts. No more reckless spending. No more socialized health care. We’re taking our country back.’ ”
Jerry Stacy, speaking for candidate Sharron Angle, said the failure of President Obama and others to get the vote out for the Democratic candidate “has created a new concern for Harry Reid’s election strategy.”
Reid will keep campaigning as long as he can continue to raise huge amounts of money from lobbyists and special interests, but his leadership spells trouble for Democrats, Stacy said.
“This is certainly a clear message, and in of all states, to see this happen in the state of Massachusetts, it is certainly sending a wakeup call,” he said.
Comfort said the same traditional GOP positions used effectively by Brown are being pushed by Nevada’s many Republican candidates seeking the right to challenge Reid in the November general election.
“We have many candidates who are capable of taking the job from Harry Reid,” he said.
But the Nevada Republican Party’s number one focus will be jobs and the economy, Comfort said. The current state of the Nevada economy has created a lot of anxiety for Nevadans, many of whom will look to the Republican Party for leadership, including independents and conservative Democrats, Comfort said.
“Harry Reid is not listening,” he said. “Harry Reid has grown arrogant in his position, and therefore it is time for Harry Reid to leave and put somebody in there who understands the notion of what good governance is all about.”