Nevada political giant Harry Reid dies of cancer at 82
The former McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas was recently transformed into the Harry Reid International Airport. The airport’s new namesake, former US Senator Harry Reid, died yesterday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
He was 82 years old.
Thanks, Harry Reid. We are eternally grateful for your commitment and foresight in preserving tribal waters. pic.twitter.com/4AenOeicK1
– Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (@plpt) December 29, 2021
Reid was a political titan from Nevada. His youth was spent in the southern part of the state – Searchlight – being raised in a family of minors.
He was an amateur boxer, became a lawyer after attending college in Utah, and even served in the United States Capitol Police.
His political career began in the late 1960s when he was elected to the Nevada State Assembly.
Very sad to learn of the death of Senator Harry Reid. In addition to everything he has done for our state and our country, he has also supported law enforcement and has always been quick to proudly show off his badge from his early years working for the Capitol Police. Condolences to his family-
– Jason Soto (@ChiefJasonSoto) December 29, 2021
Reid has had a lasting impact on all things Nevada. Not just when he was a United States Senator, but throughout his political career. He became a world leader after years of public service that culminated with his election to the United States Senate in 1986, where he served until early 2017.
He was Majority Leader from 2006 to 2015 and served as Minority Leader until his last term after the Senate moved to the Republican Party.
I just learned of the death of @ SenatorReid. He would go around with me on the stairs and take my arm and ask me how I was at the same time using me as a downward grip. He was the nicest but toughest guy I have ever met. He had great stories and did so much for the State of Nevada.
– Chuck King (@ tick0) December 29, 2021
Reid was notoriously hated in rural parts of the state – ‘elect anyone but Harry Reid’ signs littered rural counties for years, even after Reid was no longer in power – but celebrated in the centers urban areas in Silver State.
“Meet Harry Reid, the youngest elected official in the state of Nevada” – Reno Gazette-Journal, 51 years ago this week: pic.twitter.com/DAUaoAhVDV
– Greg Giroux (@greggiroux) December 29, 2021
He championed the tribes of Nevada and was instrumental in major water conservation efforts – the Walker River water rights buybacks and the Truckee River operating agreement, in particular.
The Senator was also a major proponent of land conservation, including supporting the Basin and Mountain Range National Monuments and Gold Butte. He fought several times against the storage of nuclear waste from Yucca Mountain.
– Harry Reid International Airport (@LASairport) December 29, 2021
Reid has resisted political and ethical controversies throughout his career. Despite being a Democrat, he initially said he believed Roe v. Wade is expected to be quashed, but appeared to soften his stance on abortion later in his career.
He was notably reprimanded for having referred to the presidential candidate at the time, Barack Obama, in racist terms: “fair skinned” without “no black dialect” unless Obama wanted one. Reid quickly apologized and said he misspoke.
Senator Harry Reid was one of the defining figures in Nevada history. The senator’s career in public service belongs to the state’s Mount Rushmore as an example of a legendary leader who has always put the needs, dreams and future of the people of Nevada first. (1/5)
– Brian Sandoval (@Pres_Sandoval) December 29, 2021
Obama posted on Twitter following Reid’s death. He shared a letter he wrote to Reid after hearing about Reid’s declining health.
âAs different as we are, I think we both saw something of ourselves in each other – a few strangers who had defied the odds and knew how to take a punch and take care of the little one. guy, “Obama wrote. âAnd you know what, we made a pretty good team. The world is better for what you have done. Not bad for a poor skinny boy from Searchlight.
As Harry Reid neared the end, his wife Landra asked some of us to share letters that she could read to him. Instead of a statement, here is what I wrote to my friend: pic.twitter.com/o6Ll6rzpAX
– Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 29, 2021
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has held communications positions for various state agencies and received a PhD from the University of Nevada at Reno in 2011, where he completed a thesis on social media, journalism, and crisis communication. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time position in the extension office at Mineral County University of Nevada.