Las Vegas Sun

October 6, 2022

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Jon Ralston:

Georgiou has awakened the sleeping giant

In 2010, by the time the unrelenting Team Reid blowtorch finished with Sharron Angle, the lil ole grandma from Reno was transmogrified (with a little self-immolating assistance) into a frightening, racist, crazy woman who didn’t care about jobs and advocated armed insurrection.

You ready for this, Byron Georgiou?

Georgiou, the man who dares to compete against King Harry’s chosen one, Shelley Berkley, has absorbed the first few rounds and remains standing — and defiant. But whether he is David slinging his shot at Goliath, Don Quixote tilting at the windmill or Napoleon meeting his Waterloo, Georgiou is, to coin a phrase, the fly in the anointment.

And when this king gets angry …

What should really frighten the so-far indomitable Georgiou is that arguably more is at stake than in 2010, when Reid was only protecting his seat. In 2012, the Democratic U.S. Senate majority is in play, and, as the Nevada race goes, so might the presidential contest go in this key swing state.

It is no coincidence that American Crossroads, which spent a fortune last year making an unfortunate investment in Angle, is including Nevada in its presidential-pummeling opening ad gambit this week across the country. The Nevada Senate race and the presidential contest here are critical national battlegrounds.

Hence Team Reid getting fired up again for service, this time to incinerate a Democrat and not a Republican, and this time on behalf of someone Reid believes has a much better chance to defeat Sen. Dean Heller — Rep. Shelley Berkley.

As I wrote Wednesday, the When Harry Met Shelley story is not one of enduring love but of a convenient marriage. But when Reid is all in, he is all in.

Anyone who observed what the Reid campaign did to Angle had to marvel at the sheer ferocity and relentlessness that the majority leader’s team used to turn the upset primary victor into a stunning loser, now relegated to wandering the country hawking a self-published “Let Me Explain” book that argues Reid stole the election from her.

You ready for this, Byron Georgiou?

Actually, he seems to be. He is either fearless or delusional — or both. Georgiou, to the delight of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has taken on Reid, accusing him of pettiness, vindictiveness, even amnesia.

Indeed, the fired-up Reid bunch can argue that they are some crusading paladins bent only on exposing the truth about a man the senator once thought highly enough of to appoint to a national commission. So far, they have raised questions about his ethics on the commission and dredged up some business problems.

But as serious — or not — as those issues may be, even if Georgiou were as pristine as, say, Harry Reid, the senator’s flamethrowers would still be trying to burn him. There is too much at risk, and Georgiou, either out of determination or arrogance, seems unaware of the conflagration about to envelop him.

You ready for this, Byron Georgiou?

The besieged candidate wants to argue that as an outsider (kinda), he stands a better chance than Berkley of defeating Heller. (I still recall fondly the first Reid Senate race I covered in 1986, when he won a seat partly by portraying himself, a veteran of 20 years in politics, as an outsider jousting against powerful D.C. interests. Georgiou, who has run twice before, helped cost Democrats a California congressional seat in the ’90s, and has been insinuating/buying himself into the Nevada political system since he moved here a few years back, is just following the Reid 1986 model.)

There is no survey data to back up Georgiou’s assertion of viability. Indeed, recent polling shows Berkley and Heller in a dead heat and one poll last week showed Georgiou hardly known and trailing badly to Heller.

Yes, it’s early. But unless he spends millions defining himself, he will be defined by what Team Reid sears into the Nevada electorate’s consciousness.

You ready for this, Byron Georgiou?

Georgiou’s other problem besides the Reid machine is that he is not challenging someone reviled in the Democratic grass roots. Whatever problems Berkley may have north of, well, North Las Vegas, she is beloved in Democratic circles — you know, the folks who vote in primaries.

So Georgiou has little choice but to try to destroy her standing among people who have voted for her many times. What’s he going to do — win the race outside of Clark County? I don’t think so.

He may have an impressive resume and a stiff backbone. But whether he is David taking on Goliath, Don Quixote tilting at the Reid windmill or Napoleon meeting Waterloo, Georgiou must know that if he stays in and spends money, he probably will elect Dean Heller.

You ready for that, Byron Georgiou?

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