Immigration reform, once considered dead for the year, has been thrown a lifeline by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., whose revival of the legislation could energize his state’s Hispanic voters and help save himself from defeat in November.
Reid made a startling announcement earlier this month at an immigration rally held in downtown Las Vegas. He told the crowd of about 6,000 people that, despite a packed congressional agenda, he wanted Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year.
In football terms, immigration reform may be Reid’s attempt at a political Hail Mary pass.
Reid has been trailing in Silver State polls by double digits when paired against likely Republican opponents. While state political analysts say Reid can still win, he is without question in the toughest political battle of his career.
The latest Las Vegas Review Journal/Mason-Dixon poll, taken April 13-14, shows Reid 10 points behind GOP opponent Sue Lowden.
“Clearly, Hispanics are a huge voting bloc here in Nevada,” said Jon Ralston, a longtime political analyst in Nevada. “Reid has very little margin for error, If he does not get the Democratic base to turn out in large percentages, he has no chance of winning. He needs to get the Hispanic vote to coalesce behind him.”
But Reid may not be able to keep his rally pledge, because few lawmakers in Congress have the desire to take on immigration reform, especially after the politically bruising battle over health care and with polls showing the public wants Congress to focus on the economy.