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Remembering Harry Reid

Chris Moyer
Chris Moyer
Opinion
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The sun beamed down onto the solar array just outside Las Vegas as local elected officials and solar company executives awaited Sen. Reid's arrival. Moments later, a Chevy Suburban pulled up the hill and into the parking lot. The senator, flanked by his security detail, walked over to me, pointed and asked, "Are you Chris?"

Unsuspectingly, I confirmed I was indeed Chris.

"What was your marathon time?" he asked.  

I blurted out a number, with a decent amount of pride. After all, I'd been warned that he liked strong people, so I didn’t play it down. Plus, he was a former marathon runner himself.

Not missing a beat, he shot back: "What, were you walking half the time?" Then he continued towards the podium where he would soon speak. 

Shortly after experiencing his wry humor in spring 2010, I became Sen. Reid’s body man, a low-level aide who traveled with him on the campaign trail as he faced a tough re-election. For months I sat next to him with a notebook on my lap and a pen in my hand, ready at a moment’s notice to capture a phone number or name I would need to call or relay to a senior staffer, never wanting to ask him to repeat himself. Only later did I realize I'd received a master class in campaigning, relationships and Nevada. 

Through our travel around the state, I met a fellow Team Reid campaign staffer in Reno who is now my wife. It turns out that master class from a man who was married for 62 years also included lessons on family, priorities and love.

Mari, now my wife, and I tried to keep our budding romance quiet, but nothing got past Sen. Reid – especially not in Nevada. One day, just weeks before Election Day, we were between campaign stops in Las Vegas on a rare overcast Sunday afternoon, when Sen. Reid asked me about the event Sen. Bob Menendez was headlining in Reno to energize Latino voters.

Much too eagerly, I said I knew who was staffing him and that I could give her a call. She answered with an enthusiastic "Hey, babe!" and clearly was not expecting me to immediately hand the phone over to the senator. He asked about Sen. Menendez; she told him the event was perfect, great crowd, Bob was inspiring. He listened and then ended the call before handing the Blackberry back to me and asking me a question I never saw coming.

"So is that your girlfriend?"

The two Capitol Police officers serving as part of his detail that day glanced back from the front seats of the Suburban to catch my beet-red face that gave away the answer without me speaking any words.

Almost exactly four years later, Sen. Reid called to congratulate us on our engagement, and this time, I knew exactly what to say — thank you for bringing us together and setting an example of a marriage that we admire, one that's enduring, kind, resilient and more.

Sen. Reid did so much for so many in a full life, one incredibly well-lived. He was funny, loyal, sharp, generous, bold, effective. Moving to Nevada for his campaign 12 years ago turned out to be the most consequential decision of my life. I am grateful to have known him and will forever cherish many memories with him and the friends and colleagues I came to know because of him -- especially my wife. 

Chris Moyer is a communications and campaigns strategist who has spent the last decade advising and serving as a spokesperson for candidates, elected officials, nonprofit organizations and corporate CEOs.

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