Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009 | 2 a.m.
In Today's Sun
Sig Rogich, the longtime Republican operative with decades of experience in national politics, offered a robust endorsement Wednesday of Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Reid is up for reelection in 2010 and national Republicans are hoping to take him out as a symbolic blow to Democratic hegemony in Washington.
Appearing on “Face to Face With Jon Ralston,” Rogich said, “Nevada needs to understand at this perilous time in our state’s history, why would you ever think about getting rid of the majority leader of the U.S. Senate?”
This will come as a deep disappointment to Republicans in Washington, who despise Reid because of his brutal attacks on former President George W. Bush and parliamentary maneuvering that successfully stymied much of the Republican agenda after 2004.
In Nevada, Republicans have attacked Reid as not bringing home enough bacon in the recently passed stimulus bill.
Rogich defended Reid against the charge on Ralston’s show.
“That’s not true,” he declared. “If you look back at what he’s provided for this state in terms of water and resources, and on negotiated delicate settlements that are going on, what he’s done to fight Yucca as much as any single human being can do, and the transportation components that have been built throughout the years.”
Rogich, who has helped elect dozens of Nevada Republicans, was a key adviser to former Nevada Sen. Paul Laxalt. That in turn led to a job in the advertising shop of President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 reelection campaign.
He then worked on the campaign of former President George H.W. Bush, was a special assistant to him in the White House and then ambassador to Iceland.
Rogich was a fundraiser for the second President Bush and the presidential campaign of Arizona Sen. John McCain.
Republicans appear to be struggling to find a viable candidate to take on Reid, who is seen as beatable in light of public opinion polls showing vulnerability in Nevada.
Recruiting a candidate will be more difficult without the support of Rogich, who still often provides media counsel and fundraising to Nevada Republicans, most recently to Gov. Jim Gibbons.
Veterans of Nevada politics say Rogich’s endorsement isn’t at all surprising.
“Sig is intensely loyal,” gaming consultant Mike Sloan said.
Sloan, Rogich, Reid and a few other longtime Nevadans, including former County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury and former Gov. Bob Miller, have all been close, going back to the 1970s and even earlier, often taking family trips together despite belonging to different parties.
The late Mike O’Callaghan, a two-term governor, was an important member of this tribe, as well, Sloan said.
Rogich ran the Senate campaign of Reid opponent Jim Santini in 1986. The two reconciled after that, and it’s been forgotten, Sloan said.