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ABC News Projects Sen. Harry Reid Retains Senate Seat

Nevada voters rebuke Tea Party, Reid Lives Another Day as Majority Leader

ByABC News
November 2, 2010, 10:25 PM

Nov. 3, 2010— -- Democrat Sen. Harry Reid will retain his seat in the Senate and his position as majority leader after beating Tea Party favorite Republican Sharron Angle in one of the nastiest campaigns of the season, ABC News projects based on exit polls.

Reid's uphill fight to keep his seat against a less experienced candidate he branded an "extremist," illustrated the difficult road many incumbent Democrats faced this cycle. Had he lost, it would be interpreted as a stunning victory for the Tea Party.

Reid for now will retain the office as majority leader, but with a diminished majority after early returns projected Senate seat losses for the Democrats in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arkansas and North Dakota.

A long, nasty campaign in Nevada had the candidates neck-and-neck in the polls for weeks and each ratcheting up the negativity of their ads to try to gain a lead.

If they differed ideologically, the candidates shared the contempt of Nevada voters, who bristled at what became one of the closest, most contentiouss campaigns in the entire country.

With one of the highest foreclosure and unemployment rates in the country, many Nevadans lashed out at Reid, a senator since 1987 and majority leader since 2007, whose close relationship to President Obama made him a target for frustrated voters and nearly cost him the election.

Despite that anger, Angle, a former teacher and competitive weight-lifter-turned-state-senator who said she does not believe in any federal spending not provided for in the Constitution, could not win the day.

Angle ran under a Tea Party banner, running anti-immigrant ads and pushing a message of limited federal government.