The Tragic Death Of Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Former Senate Majority Leader and Lieutenant Governor of Nevada Harry Reid died on December 28, according to CNN. He was 82 years old. 

The former senator, a Democrat who retired from the Senate in 2017, died from pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his wife, Landra, his five children, and his 19 grandchildren, per The New York Times. His death was announced in a statement by his wife, who said (via CNN), "I am heartbroken to announce the passing of my husband, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He died peacefully this afternoon, surrounded by our family, following a courageous, four-year battle with pancreatic cancer."

Reid spent eight years as Senate majority leader and a further two as minority leader, before finally retiring. And while he put Nevada on the map politically, pushing for the state's presidential primaries to be held earlier, his personal convictions often had him at odds with other members of his party. Though a staunch believer in social programs, having grown up poor himself, Reid did oppose abortion and the limiting of gun ownership. He also opposed gay marriage, a possible consequence of his Mormon beliefs.

Nevertheless, he made an impression, and fellow politicians — including President Joe Biden and former president Barack Obama took the time to express their condolences.

Joe Biden and Barack Obama recalled Harry Reid fondly

Harry Reid was elected to the Senate in 1987, reported The New York Times, and almost a decade later was elected Senate minority whip, a position of both power and influence. His tenure as minority whip, then later majority whip — and finally, as majority leader — allowed him to work closely with his fellow senators. "During the two decades we served together in the United States Senate, and the eight years we worked together while I served as vice president, Harry met the marker for what I've always believed is the most important thing by which you can measure a person – their action and their word," President Joe Biden said (via CNN).

Former president Barack Obama, who Reid convinced to run for president, also recalled him fondly. "I wouldn't have been president had it not been for your encouragement and support, and I wouldn't have got most of what I got done without your skill and determination," Obama wrote in a letter to the former senator before his death, per CNN. And even Senator Mitch McConnell recalled Reid favorably, even if they were on opposite sides of most debates. "I never doubted that Harry was alway doing what he earnestly, deeply felt was right for Nevada and our country," he said. "He will rightly go down in history as a crucial, pivotal figure in the development and history of his beloved home state."

Former president Donald Trump has yet to make a statement on Reid's passing, but considering Reid once called him "the worst president in the history of the country" on a Salt Lake Tribune podcast, it's unlikely he'd say anything favorable.