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Member of Harry Reid’s re-election team returns to run Democrats’ 2012 war room

Updated Monday, Nov. 28, 2011 | 11:03 p.m.

One of Sen. Harry Reid's senior staffers is heading back to the Silver State to lead campaign communications for the Democrats as Rep. Shelley Berkley's Senate campaign and President Barack Obama's presidential re-election effort — contests crucial to the balance of power in Washington — shift into high gear.

Zac Petkanas will become the Nevada Democratic Party's senior communications adviser, running a war room that will be working with both the Berkley and Obama campaigns.

Even though Reid isn't up for reelection, his post-2012 fate is also clearly a consideration for Petkanas as well.

"With the White House and the Democratic Senate majority on the line, the stakes couldn't be higher in Nevada," he said. "Our goal is a simple one: ensure that Nevada voters understand the clear choice they have between Democrats, who are committed to creating jobs, and Republicans, who are more focused on killing Medicare by turning it over to private insurance companies and protecting taxpayer giveaways to Big Oil executives."

Petkanas joined Sen. Reid's Washington, D.C., office after working to reelect Nevada's senior senator over Sharron Angle during the 2010 midterm elections; he's worked in Reid's war room as the head of the Nevada press operation since the beginning of the year.

His new appointment, which begins Dec. 5, is an early step in a election-focused build-up that will be continuing over the next several months, he said.

Kristen Orthman, who currently works in Reid's Washington office, will take over Petkanas's role working as head of the Nevada press operation.

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