Las Vegas Sun

September 25, 2021

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Many state leaders voice support for renaming Las Vegas airport

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Steve Marcus

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid responds to a question during an interview at his office in the Bellagio Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019.

Gov. Steve Sisolak and other state leaders are lining up to back a potential name change for McCarran International Airport to honor former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid.

Sisolak and state Attorney General Aaron Ford added their endorsements Monday to the push to rename the Las Vegas airport for Reid, the latest campaign by Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom to strip the name of the late U.S. Sen. Pat McCarran from the airport.

Here are some statements:

Sisolak: “Sen. Harry Reid has never forgotten who he is or where he came from. His is a story of a man worth honoring by renaming the airport in the city and state to which he has given so much.”

Ford: “I’m proud to support the renaming of our airport to honor Senator Reid. It’s time for Nevada to do our part in confronting our racist history, and to honor a man who has been a true champion for communities that McCarran himself resented.”

Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall: “Sen. Reid’s work to make the Silver State a better place to live for all Nevadans spans his entire career and can be felt from every corner of Nevada.”

Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev): “Sen. Harry Reid is a tireless public servant, representing our state honorably for over 40 years. His rise in national politics goes hand in hand with the rise of Las Vegas as the international destination it is today.”

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.): “I can think of no better namesake for a renamed McCarran than Senator Reid, who I am proud to call a friend and mentor.”

Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.): “I’ve made it my mission in Congress to fight back against anti-Semitism & hate in all its forms, & so, I am glad that the Clark County Commission will consider a measure — that I’ve long supported — to replace this airport’s name with one that better exemplifies Nevada’s values.”

Commissioner William McCurdy, as the Nevada State Democratic Party chairman: “Sen. Reid has done a tremendous amount on behalf of all Nevadans — I honestly can’t think of someone who has done more for our state. He is someone I’ve looked up to and still learn from. Renaming the airport to denounce McCarrans’s legacy of anti-Semitism and xenophobia is long overdue and I want to thank Commissioner Segerblom for his leadership. No one is more deserving of this honor than Sen. Reid and I am grateful to be a part of making it a reality.”

UNLV President Keith Whitfield and UNR President (and former Republican Gov.) Brian Sandoval: “We are committed to equity and inclusion, and we stand together against the late Pat McCarran’s legacy of racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.” 

The county commission will consider a vote today at 9 a.m. to rename the county-owned airport for Democrat Reid, who represented Nevada for 30 years in the U.S. Senate, including an eight-year run as the majority leader, before retiring in 2017. The meeting will be live-streamed at www.clarkcountynv.gov and www.youtube.com/ClarkCountyNV.

McCarran represented Nevada in the Senate from 1933 until his death in 1954 and was an aviation proponent. But McCarran has been criticized in more recent years for a history of virulent racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

Segerblom has said that the rebranding would be covered by private donations, not taxpayer money.

Not everyone is supportive. Assemblywoman Annie Black (R-Mesquite) said in a Monday newsletter that renaming the airport is divisive and a waste of time and money.

“Any name change of such significance should only be made with a vote of the people to approve it,” she said. “If we’re going to change the name of McCarran International Airport at all, it should be changed to Las Vegas International Airport.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.