Harry Reid kicked off his re-election bid for the U.S. Senate at a city park in Reno Wednesday with support from a cheering crowd of more than 200 people of various political persuasions.
Reid, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate seeking his fourth term, pledged to continue Nevada's fight against the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository and to protect the environment.
"Over the years I have been privileged to work with people from all over this great state, from both political parities, from all walks of life," Reid said.
"Today I thank every one of you, and I ask you to help me once again."
Reid planned additional campaign stops Wednesday in Las Vegas and Elko.
Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, a Republican, introduced Reid at the Reno rally in Idlewild Park near the Truckee River, a subtle suggestion to legislation pushed by Reid in the 1990s that ended more than a century of water wars.
"Although from different parties, we both put Nevada first," Cashell said of Reid.
Frankie Sue Del Papa, former state attorney general, described the upcoming election as the "most defining election of our lifetime." She said Yucca Mountain, the environment and health care are the issues that will sway Nevada voters in November.
Reid, who has no Democratic opposition in the primary, has nine other challengers - six Republicans and three minor party candidates. They largely are political unknowns, with the exception of GOP contender Richard Ziser of Las Vegas, who spearheaded a successful anti-gay marriage amendment to the Nevada Constitution.
Reid, who squeaked through his 1998 re-election bid by a scant 428 votes over John Ensign in a recount, already has amassed more than $7 million for this year's campaign, according to the latest financial disclosures.
"I'm going to be as well prepared this time as I was ill-prepared last time," Reid said.
Though most in the crowd at the Reno event were party loyalists, many others said they were independents and Republican.
One woman said she had been a Republican for 30 years but switched parties last year because of the economy and the war in Iraq.
Speaking with reporters after the rally, Reid said Iraq, health care and education are the issues on most voters' minds this election season.
While he agrees some Republican tax cuts should be made permanent, including the elimination of the marriage penalty, Reid said he does not believe tax cuts are a priority with voters.
"I have not had anyone come to me and say, 'Please save our tax cuts,'" Reid said.
Iraq will be the deciding issue as voters go to the polls, Reid said, adding that he believes the United States needs to reach out to other countries for assistance in stabilizing Iraq and its government.
"We can no longer be big guy on the block," he said. "We need help."
Ongoing warfare in Iraq has distracted from the original goal of fighting international terrorism, Reid said.
"We've lost focus on the war on terror," he said.
On the Net:
Sen. Reid re-election campaign: www.harryreid.com