LAS VEGAS — The Democratic nominee in the Nevada governor's race is the son of one of the most powerful politicians in America, but you wouldn't know it by his campaign.
Rory Reid is going to great lengths to keep his distance from his famous father – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – in an election year when the elder Reid is the anti-incumbent movement's public enemy No. 1.
Rory Reid's campaign banners say "Rory 2010." Campaign releases call him Rory on second reference. His first TV ad – "Paid for by Rory 2010" – doesn't utter or display his last name. Rory Reid's biography on his website makes no mention of Harry Reid.
The fact that Rory Reid is avoiding his surname as he runs for governor shows how topsy-turvy this election year has become.
Harry Reid's battle for a fifth Senate term against GOP challenger and tea party darling Sharron Angle is the country's headline race this midterm election. Republicans are salivating at the prospect of unseating the man they believe embodies all that is wrong with Washington.
The elder Reid is also dogged by unfavorable ratings among Nevada voters angry over soaring unemployment rates and record numbers of foreclosures and bankruptcies.
Rory Reid said picking Nevada's next chief executive isn't about family ties.
"People I'm sure have an opinion about my father," Rory Reid told The Associated Press on Friday. "What they have yet to do, many of them, is develop an opinion about me. And that's what this campaign is about."
Rory Reid serves on the Clark County Commission, the state's largest and most powerful local government. He coasted to the Democratic nomination earlier this month and will face Republican Brian Sandoval in November.
In any other year, he would be able to ride the coattails of his father throughout the election season. But with anti-Harry Reid sentiment running high, Republicans are attempting to make the governor's race just as much about the senator than the actual candidate.
Republicans were quick to pounce on the ad released this week that features kids asking about qualities they'd like to see in their next governor – but nary a reference to the Reid name. The GOP charged Reid with trying to run away from his father and his damaged political legacy.
"If Nevadans are happy with Harry Reid's failed record then they will be in for a real treat if Rory Reid takes hold of Carson City," said Republican National Committee spokesman Jahan Wilcox.
Reid said he considers the Republican response to his ad a "distraction" and that voters he has spoken to haven't wanted to talk about his dad.
"They never want to talk about my genealogy. They want to know what the next governor is going to do to create more jobs, to improve our schools and to make their lives better," Reid said. "Ultimately I don't think that people are going to vote for me for any reason other than I'll make their life better."
It's not clear if the Reids will campaign together before the November election. So far the famous political family's father and son who share the top of the ticket have gone their separate ways and avoided joint appearances.
Harry Reid's campaign did find time Friday to show where he stands in the race.
"Senator Reid loves his son very much and believes he would make an excellent governor," said Kelly Steele, Harry Reid's campaign spokesman.