Sen. Harry Reid stellar achievements include regulating gambling in his home state of Nevada at the time when the mob had control over casinos. He knows by heart the Senate procedures being the Democrats’ second-in-command for six years and their leader for the past two years.
Now that the Democrats gain control of the Senate after four years of rival party GOP dominance, the gold miner’s son who hails from a small Searchlight, Nev., is poised to become the next majority leader. He is described as soft-spoken but shrewd; Reid’s personality and knowledge of the Senate will define the post.

“I always would rather dance than fight,” Reid likes to say. “But I know how to fight.”

Reid, 66, grew up in small mining town in the Mojave Desert, paid his way through college then entered law school in Washington as a Capitol Hill cop. He served five years as chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission in the late 1970s, slowly he rose from the ranks in state politics starting as lieutenant governor to congressman to senator, winning his fourth Senate term in 2004.

Sen. Tom Daschle’s loss that year opened the way for Reid to become minority leader.

Slight and stoop-shouldered, Reid at times speaks in a near-whisper and seems to shrink from the spotlight. But he’s viewed as a tough-nosed master of the back-room deal and of Senate floor procedure.

In 2001 he helped influence moderate Vermont Sen. James Jefford’s decision to bolt from the GOP and become an independent, giving Democrats their last stint of Senate control, for a year and a half.

Last November, he left Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist fuming when he used a little-invoked Senate rule to force the chamber into a closed session to question prewar intelligence.

“Reid could just run circles around First in terms of parliamentary moves,” said Eric Herzik, a political scientist at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Reid is against abortion and some gun control laws. “He really does develop consensus before he makes decisions,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer D-Calif. “He’s a very self-effacing individual. He’s a rare type of person. There’s a certain naivete to Harry that’s refreshing. He’s not rehearsed.”

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