Republicans fired Harry Reid in 2014; he may retire in 2016.

Harry Reid

Harry Reid and Senate Democrats took a thumping in the 2014 elections, losing eight seats to Republicans — so far — with a likely ninth seat changing parties in Louisiana in the upcoming December 6 runoff. At a closed-door meeting of the incoming Republican caucus, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell was unanimously elected Majority Leader. Republicans will take control of the Senate in January.

At the same meeting, Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker was elected to head the National Republicans Senatorial Committee, the campaign committee charged with elected Republicans to the Senate. Wicker suggested that outgoing Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) may decide to retire rather than face a very competitive re-election campaign in 2016.

The Hill reports:

The new National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman pointed out that Nevada’s Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, who was just reelected overwhelmingly, could run against Reid in 2016.

“To me, that state is going Republican,” Wicker said on MSNBC. “I think Gov. Sandoval has a real good opportunity now after a great run as governor, perhaps to run for senator. So, you know, frankly I’ll say this: I think Harry Reid may decide to retire. That’s my prediction.”

Reid won a tough race in 2010 against Republican Sharron Angle, whom Democrats were able to paint as extreme.

Wicker was asked if Republicans would go after Reid with the same force that Democrats went after Republican leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), this year.

“Well, absolutely,” Wicker said. “But you know, more importantly, I think that the citizens of Nevada will go after Harry Reid. I think he’s out of step with the state.”

Republicans no doubt face an uphill battle in 2016 — with a highly competitive presidential campaign on the horizon as well as Republicans defending 24 Senate seats to the Democrats’ 10 seats. Many of the Republican Senate races are in competitive states like Wisconsin, Illinois, and North Carolina.

To put that into perspective, Democrats defended just 21 seats in the Senate during 2014 to the Republicans’ 15 seats. Several of the seats Democrats lost in 2014 were in reliably red states Mitt Romney won during the 2012 presidential election.

Additionally, Alex Pappas posits at the Daily Caller that a number of incumbent Republican Senators could face tough primary challenges from the right in their respective states. Certainly, holding the Senate will be a top priority for Republicans; however, expanding the map — particularly in a presidential year and with the possibility of finally ridding the Senate of Harry Reid — is something that over which an aggressive NRSC leader might salivate.

#RetireHarryReid was a popular Twitter hashtag throughout 2014 as a way to propel Republicans into the majority in the Senate. Perhaps now the hashtag can serve as a suggestion to Senator Reid rather than a rallying cry for Republicans.


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