CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday a Democratic candidate will emerge to challenge Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.
“I have had a number of conversations,” Reid said during a wide-ranging interview with reporters in Carson City, adding Democrats will “fill every one of our spots” on the ballot.
“I’m sure we’ll have a respectable candidate, someone who people know,” Reid said.
His comments came a day after Steve Sisolak, a Clark County commissioner and the strongest Democratic possibility to date, announced he would not take on the Republican governor this year. The candidate-filing period runs from March 3 to March 14.
On other topics, Reid said he believes Congress will approve raising the minimum wage and that problems with the federal health care roll-out have largely been fixed.
Reid, who two years ago tried to get an Internet poker bill passed through Congress, said he won’t support unlimited Internet gambling.
“We worked very hard and had the opportunity to do poker,” he said. “Now there’s a move to have unlimited gambling on the Internet — and that’s something I don’t favor.”
Reid said he will try again to pass an extension of the federal unemployment insurance program that was cut off in late December. More than 1.3 million people abruptly lost from jobless benefits when the program that provided assistance to the long-term unemployed ended Dec. 28.
So far, efforts to temporarily revive the program have failed.
“We came within one vote of doing it, and there’s tremendous pressure now on a number of Republicans and we have all the Democrats,” he said. “So I’ll bring it up again.”
Reid also said he believes Congress will pass an increase in the federal minimum wage.
“It would bring more than 1 million people out of poverty. It would give millions of people a raise,” he said.
“One thing we can’t deny is the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer in America,” Reid added, echoing familiar statements he’s made on the Senate floor. “The middle class is being squeezed. Someone who works 40 hours should not be listed as poor.”
On Tuesday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report that said boosting the federal minimum wage as proposed by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats would increase earnings for more than 16.5 million by 2016 but also cut employment by about 500,000.
The Senate is expected to begin debating the increase in March.
Reid also defended federal health care reform despite problems with the rollout of the health insurance exchanges.
“People are signing up. We’ll see how it winds up come April,” he said. “But right now, does anyone think we should go back to the way it was before?”
Reid touted the benefits of insurance companies being unable to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions or dropping coverage because of illness.
“We’re past all that,” he said. “We made a lot of progress. It’s possible there will be other bumps in the road before we get this finished.”
In case anyone was wondering, Reid repeated his intent to seek re-election to a sixth term in 2016.
“Every trip I come home and say it, and I’ll say it again: Yes, I’m running,” he said.
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