Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012 | 3:08 p.m.
It’s been a rough week for Harry Reid.
He’s been rumbling with the Republicans over the debt ceiling. In the middle of that, he lost one of his mentors and closest allies in the Senate, Hawaii Sen. Dan Inouye, who died Monday and spent Thursday lying in state in the Capitol. And his longtime personal assistant, Janice Shelton, is retiring after 25 years.
As Reid was saying his public goodbye to Shelton on the Senate floor Thursday, the usually steely-eyed Majority Leader did something heretofore unseen on the Senate floor: he broke down.
“I thought we had shed all our tears but I guess not,” he said, removing his glasses and wiping his eyes for over half a minute.
Shelton and Reid have been through a lot together, including 25 years of late nights, and even a few family tragedies.
It was Shelton who told Reid that his wife, Landra, had been hurt in a car accident while Reid was in the deepest throes of negotiating a health care bill. More recently, Shelton also helped Landra through some of her worst struggles with breast cancer.
Reid began to tear up as he recalled these stories.
“Today is her last day, just a few more hours to work here,” Reid said, his voice trailing off as he cried briefly, and recalled words once told him by his closest mentor and best friend, former Nevada Governor Mike O’Callaghan, who passed away in 2004. Reid keeps two pictures of O'Callaghan by his desk in his Senate office.
“[O’Callaghan] was my mentor, my best friend and he taught me something that I’ve always remembered: You can buy a resume, you can buy good looks, education, experience -- but the one thing you can’t buy is loyalty,” Reid said. “There’s no one that’s ever been more loyal to me than Janice Shelton.”
Shelton’s last day in the Senate is Thursday.