For a four-term (!) incumbent, Harry Reid’s re-elect numbers seem really rocky. Granted, these are internal GOP polls, but it sure looks like Harry might have a rough 2010 re-election, should the Republicans find an opponent next year.

Like Tom Daschle, Harry Reid may be vulnerable at home because of his high national profile, although he’s got a strong in-state machine. Nevertheless, shedding another opponent (Lt Gov Brian Krolicki got indicted months ago, making him an unlikely challenger) this week has to make Harry happy.

Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) has decided to take a pass on challenging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) in 2010, a move that comes as little surprise to national party insiders. The two-term Congressman informed National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) of his decision on Tuesday.

Several polls conducted in the Silver State since the start of the cycle have shown that Reid could be vulnerable in his bid for a fifth term, and Republicans continue to remain optimistic that they will be able to recruit a top candidate who will give Reid a competitive race next year.

Heller is a two-term Congressman who joins former Congressman Jon Porter on the won’t-challenge-the-Reid-machine list:

Former Rep. Jon Porter (R), who was defeated by now-Rep. Dina Titus (D) in 2008, seemed like the next best option for the GOP fallback after Krolicki, but he took a job with a law firm in Washington, D.C., and said he would not run.

Republicans admit Heller would have been an excellent candidate. He is a former Nevada secretary of state and has demonstrated the ability to raise large amounts of money for his Congressional bids.

Chris Cillizza quotes an internal GOP poll showing even the relatively unknown Republican state chair beating the United States Senate Majority Leader by six points:

Even as Heller removed himself from consideration, a new name — Nevada Republican Party Chair Sue Lowden — emerged as a possible Reid challenger. A group of Nevada Republicans led by Robert Uithoven, who managed Gov. Jim Gibbons’ (R) 2006 campaign, released a survey showing Lowden ahead of Reid 48 percent to 42 percent.

Republicans insist that Reid’s numbers are so bad that any credible challenger — including Lowden — will be in a strong position to beat him.

This race is starting to remind me of North Carolina in 2008 — where a nationally known incumbent scared off higher-profile challengers with her name recognition, thus allowing a hard-working but little-known candidate to win over voters who felt ignored. Maybe it’s not the Tom Daschle/John Thune example Harry Reid should fear but the Liddy Dole/Kay Hagan model.

Democrats in North Carolina and in the U.S. Senate had a tough time finding a candidate who would face Dole because state officeholders, including Hagan, didn’t like their chances.

Also, what effect will Reid’s constant whining about his inability to accomplish Democratic objectives have on netroots’ motivation to help him get re-elected? Sure, he’s got lots of money in the bank (more than ten million dollars) but a well-funded undamaged fresh-faced GOP newcomer backed by out-of-state interests could put a dent in that really fast.

Teddy Partridge

Teddy Partridge