Yesterday, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell announced he would abide by his chamber's traditions and not campaign against Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Reid, who had earlier seemed like an likely victim of GOP electoral ambitions, has gained steam in recent months, generally leading Tea Party favorite Sharon Angel, the Republican nominee, in public opinion polls. The last time one party leader went to the hustings against his opposite number was in 2004, when Republican Bill Frist appeared with then-candidate John Thune prior to his victory over former Democratic Leader Tom Daschle.
While part of the calculus behind this decision must be drawn from Reid's decision not to campaign against McConnell in his 2008 re-election (even though a Democratic candidate came surprisingly close to unseating McConnell), the decision also has broader implications for Reid and the rest of the Democrats. McConnell's decision is a tacit acknowledgment that Reid has a solid chance to pull out a victory. Moreover, it shows unwillingness on the senior Republican's part to associate with Angle, whose strange behavior recently culminated in her desire for journalists to "report the news the way we want it to be reported" and broadcast her fundraising pleas; other highlights include her interest in "second-amendment remedies," which we believe are akin to death panels.
If Angle is too much for McConnell, who recently endorsed hearings to consider the repeal of the 14th Amendment, the taciturn Reid has every reason to smile.
-- Tim Fernholz