LAS VEGAS - Much of the talk surrounding November's midterm elections has centered on the possibility of Republicans regaining control of the House.
Winning over the Senate will be more difficult for the GOP, but there are a few close races -- including that of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Reid faces Tea Party candidate Sharon Angle. Their battle for the Nevada Senate seat hinges largely on the issue of the economy.
Gaining Economic Confidence
Reid recently got good news for his home state during a walking tour of Las Vegas. The new downtown Symphony Park community is expected to help get Nevada back on track.
"This five block program will employ 14,000 people," Reid said of the neighborhood. "We have a long ways to go, but we're going to get there."
Nevada has been on a five-year losing streak economically. Tourism has taken a dive and a once-booming housing bubble bursted.
The economic situation doesn't help the odds of incumbent Reid and others like him seeking re-election.
Making the Case
In a state known for casinos and jackpots, Nevada went from high roller to big loser. In 2005, the state had the country's strongest economy.
Now, it is dead last. Unemployment has skyrocketed and job growth has nose dived.
So who's to blame? Angle blames Reid. Reid blames former President George W. Bush.
"It was the policies of the prior administration," Reid told CBN News. "We're trying to dig our way out of that."
Reid's shovel includes spearheading efforts to pass the stimulus bill, health care reform, and Wall Street reform.
But convincing independent voters that these policies are the right prescription is another challenge.
"What we've done are things that have been badly needed in this country for a long time," Reid said. "How could we not do Wall Street reform? How could we not do health care reform? It was something that was long overdue. Both those issues, had we not done, we would have bankrupt our country."
"So I think everything's been necessary," he continued. "It's been good and our country is better for having passed this legislation."
Reid's approval numbers have not been good. Forty-eight percent of voters have a very unfavorable view of him. But the senator remains confident.
"You can't go anyplace in America today that people's approval ratings are very high," Reid said in reaction to the polls.
The Senate leader added that a changing electorate in the last 10 years in Nevada may have contributed to the low numbers..
"We've had 600,000 new people move to the state of Nevada. They don't know me," he claimed.
But Reid is used to feeling the heat. He's been involved in close Senate races before, and each time came out victorious.
In his race against Angle, he hopes to play off the perception that she's an extremist. A recent poll revealed that 58 percent of Nevadans think Angle's views go too far.
"Anyone who wants to get rid of social security and privatize it -- they're not in the mainstream of Nevada," Reid said.
"She's not mainstream for Nevada or probably most any other place in America," he later added.
Picking Up Speed
After trailing Angle for a month in polls, Reid now has a slight lead.
"Reid has a ceiling on support. He can lose this race, but he's regained the upper hand," Time Magazine Editor-at-large Mark Halperin said.
"Even some Republicans will tell you Sharron Angle is going to have to have a great several months coming up to put herself back in the strong position," Halperin said.
In the meantime, Reid must convince Nevadans that he's doing what he can to help turn their state's economy around.
"Because of things that I did, there's about $700 to $800 million I brought to the state of Nevada," Reid said.
One thing is certain about a former boxer like Harry Reid -- he's not going down without a fight.
*Originally published August 5, 2010.