Harry Reid, Longtime Senator and Former Democrat Leader, Dead at 82

File photo: Joseph Sohm, Shutter Stock, licensed.
Then Senator Harry Reid speaking at the Ralph Cadwallader Middle School, Las Vegas, NV in 2004. File photo: Joseph Sohm, Shutter Stock, licensed.

CARSON CITY, NV – Harry Reid, a lawyer and longtime Democratic U.S. senator representing the state of Nevada who served as Senate Majority Leader from 2007 to 2015, passed away this week after a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 82.

After his diagnosis in 2018, Reid announced in 2019 that due to early detection and chemotherapy, his cancer was in remission. However, it would soon resurface, and Reid passed away on Tuesday surrounded by family members at his home in Henderson. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Landra Gould, and five children.

Born in Searchlight, Nevada in 1939, Reid graduated from Utah State University in 1961 with a double-major in political science and history before going on to earn a Juris Doctor degree from George Washington University Law School in 1964 while working as a Capitol Police officer on the side.

Serving as a senator for Nevada from 1987 to 2017, Reid led the Senate Democratic Caucus from 2005 to 2017, and was the Senate Majority Leader from 2007 to 2015.

Reid was best known for controversially using the so-called “nuclear option” for the first time in history in 2013 as Senate Majority Leader in order to eliminate the 60-vote requirement to end the filibuster for executive branch nominees, aside from nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reid was also known for splitting with his party on certain social issues, including abortion, having been a proponent of overturning Roe v. Wade. He also was a strong supporter of protecting nature, having led the charge to designate almost 5.1 million acres of Nevada land as being federally protected.

After Republicans took control of the Senate in 2014, Reid served as Senate Minority Leader from 2015 until he retired in 2017. Reid was succeeded as the Senate Democratic leader by New York’s Chuck Schumer.

In order to honor his legacy, Las Vegas airport in Nevada was recently changed to Harry Reid International Airport; private donors began the process of raising $7 million to cover the rebranding this month, according to Reid’s grieving widow Landra.

“We are so proud of the legacy he leaves behind both on the national stage and his beloved Nevada,” she said. “Harry was deeply touched to see his decades of service to Nevada honored in recent weeks with the renaming of Las Vegas’ airport in his honor.”

President Joe Biden noted in a statement that Reid was a man you could always count on to keep his word.

If Harry said he would do something, he did it. If he gave you his word, you could bank on it. That’s how he got things done for the good of the country for decades,” he said.

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