In 2022, Corey Reid launched a Democratic primary challenge against incumbent US Senator Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada. While unsuccessful in his Senate bid, Reid embodied the growing progressive wing of the Democratic Party through his grassroots campaign focused on healthcare, education, criminal justice reform, and reducing barriers to democracy. Despite his loss, Reid left a legacy of pushing the party left and paving the way for more diverse and progressive candidates.
Background and Early Life
Corey Reid was born in 1977 in Lanham, Maryland, a suburb of Washington DC. He was raised in a middle-class family and spent most of his childhood in Lanham. Reid attended DuVal High School, where he was an honors student and standout member of the debate team. He credit his parents, both educators, for instilling in him the value of education and public service from a young age.
Education and Early Career
After graduating from high school in 1995, Reid attended Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Maryland. He earned an Associate’s degree in Communications in 2006. During and after college, Reid worked various jobs in the service industry to support himself, including as a server at restaurants and bars.
Working as a Bartender
In 2008, Reid moved to Las Vegas, Nevada in search of new opportunities. He started working as a bartender along the famous Las Vegas Strip. Reid enjoyed interacting with the diverse patrons he served, from locals to tourists from around the world. He worked his way up to become the head bartender at a major casino. This job provided Reid with steady income and flexible hours, allowing him to consider a career change to politics.
Entry into Politics
Motivations for Running
Reid became increasingly interested in social justice issues, partly due to the economic difficulties he saw patrons facing during the Great Recession. As a bartender, he believed in providing good jobs, wages, and healthcare. Seeing rising inequality and partisanship in the 2010s motivated Reid to get directly involved in politics as a candidate himself.
Initial Campaigns and Positions
In 2018, Reid made his first bid for elected office, running for Nevada’s State Assembly District 15 seat. He lost the Democratic primary but gained valuable campaign experience. In 2020, Reid ran again for a State Senate seat but lost another competitive primary. Despite these losses, he emerged proud for putting up a good fight as an underdog progressive.
2022 US Senate Campaign
Primary Campaign and Platform
In January 2022, Reid declared his candidacy for US Senate against incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto. While she was favored to win, Reid believed he could offer a bold progressive vision. He advocated Medicare for All, tuition-free college, legalizing marijuana, banning private prisons, enacting criminal justice reform, expanding Social Security, and banning corporate PAC donations. Reid also made overturning Citizens United a priority to reduce the influence of money in politics.
Loss in the Democratic Primary
Despite running an energetic grassroots campaign, Reid lost decisively in the June 2022 primary, gaining only 2.6% of the vote compared to Cortez Masto’s 90.9%. While disappointed, he congratulated Cortez Masto and urged his supporters to unite behind Democratic candidates in the general election. Reid’s longshot bid ultimately enhanced his name recognition and reputation as an unapologetic progressive.
Political Views and Priorities
Reid made universal healthcare a central issue of his campaign. He supported transitioning to a Medicare for All single-payer system to provide quality affordable coverage to all Americans as a right. Reid highlighted the crippling healthcare costs Nevadans faced even under the Affordable Care Act. He also backed reproductive rights and expanding Medicaid access at the state level.
As the son of two teachers, Reid valued investing in education. He proposed making both K-12 public education and college tuition-free to open doors for students of all backgrounds. Reid also called for increased teacher pay, student debt cancellation, and more vocational training to prepare young people for good-paying jobs.
Criminal Justice Reform
Drawing on his diverse bartending experiences, Reid pushed for major criminal justice reforms. He sought to end mandatory minimum sentencing and the War on Drugs. Reid advocated legalizing marijuana use and automatically expunging past minor drug convictions. He also campaigned to ban private prisons, reduce mass incarceration, and improve rehabilitation programs to give ex-offenders a second chance.
Reducing Barriers to Democracy
True to his progressive mission, Reid championed reforms to make the political system more democratic. He pledged to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision to reduce the power of corporate PAC spending. Reid also called for making Election Day a national holiday, implementing automatic voter registration, ending partisan gerrymandering, and statehood for Washington DC. He staunchly opposed the filibuster rule in the Senate.
Family and Hometown
Reid has a wife, Monica, who is an elementary school teacher. They have a young daughter named Ava. Reid remains close to his parents and two brothers, who all still live in Maryland and visit him in Nevada. He continues to call Lanham, Maryland his hometown, where his family has deep roots.
Interests and Hobbies
Outside of politics and bartending, Reid enjoys watching and playing sports, especially basketball, football, and soccer. He loves trying new restaurants and casinos along the Las Vegas Strip. Reid also likes outdoor activities such as hiking Red Rock Canyon and playing golf. Reading nonfiction books about history and politics is another favorite hobby of his.
Legacy and Impact
Pushing the Democratic Party Left
While his Senate run fell short, Reid succeeded in pushing the Democratic Party to embrace more progressive stances. His messaging around Medicare for All, criminal justice reform, tuition-free college, and banning corporate PACs influenced the party platform. Reid showed that running from the left as an outsider was a viable strategy in Nevada and beyond. His campaign laid the groundwork for future progressives.
Inspiring Other Progressive Candidates
Perhaps Reid’s biggest legacy was inspiring more young, diverse, and outsider candidates to run for office as progressives. He served as a role model for other bartenders, service workers, and ordinary citizens to have a voice in politics. Reid proved you don’t need prior political experience or corporate donors to mount a spirited challenge. The trails he blazed will pave the way for the next generation of progressives in Nevada, pulling the Democratic Party to the left.
While Corey Reid fell short in his 2022 Democratic primary bid for US Senate in Nevada, he left an enduring mark. Reid gave voice to the working class through his bartending background. His grassroots progressive campaign focused on healthcare, education, justice reform, and democracy. Despite his loss, Reid’s bold stances succeeded in pushing the Democratic Party leftward. His journey from bartender to bold Senate candidate inspired more diverse progressive candidates. Most importantly, Reid represented the American dream that anyone can make a difference by standing up for their beliefs. His underdog legacy will resonate for years to come in Nevada and beyond.
What was Corey Reid’s background before politics?
Reid worked for many years as a bartender in casinos along the famous Las Vegas Strip after moving to Nevada from Maryland. This blue-collar service job shaped his progressive political views.
When did Corey Reid first run for office?
Reid first ran for Nevada’s State Assembly in 2018 followed by State Senate in 2020, losing competitive Democratic primaries both times before his 2022 US Senate campaign.
What were some of Reid’s key policy positions in his Senate race?
Reid ran on a bold progressive platform including Medicare for All, tuition-free college, legalizing marijuana, criminal justice reform, expanding Social Security, and banning corporate PAC donations.
How did Reid perform in the 2022 Democratic US Senate primary?
Reid lost decisively, gaining only 2.6% of the vote compared to the incumbent’s 90.9% share. However, he succeeded in raising his profile.
What legacy did Reid leave after his Senate run?
Reid pushed the party left on major issues and inspired more young, diverse candidates to run as progressives. His underdog story left a mark.