Democratic elected officials pepper Reid with questions on shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spent 40 minutes on the phone Friday morning with Democratic elected officials, answering questions about the government shutdown and reminding them that those anarchists in the House are holding up everything.

“I think he was trying to explain to people how we got where we are and where we are now,” said state Treasurer Kate Marshall, who was on the call along with every other Democratic constitutional officer, a few lawmakers and local government officials North and South.

Although the call may have been unusual – that many Democratic electeds on one line at one time with Democrat Numero Uno – it’s not as if they were talking about secrets of the party kingdom. Those I talked to indicated it was more informational than anything else as Reid wanted to assuage fears, reassure his flock and energize them to contact Sen. Dean Heller and Reps. Mark Amodei and Rep. Joe Heck. (Not that it would help.)

“Part of the information he was conveying was that a small number of officials on the right are holding the country hostage,” Marshall told me shortly after the call. Ah, see anarchists, Tea Party variety.

I’m told Reid organized the call to update the state and local officials because of what they had been hearing from their constituents. Indeed, one elected official on the call, who did not want to be identified, said voters often cannot distinguish between the responsibilities of federal and state politicians and have been hectoring them about the shutdown. “They do not see the difference between DC politics and locally,” he said.

Reid began with his mantra about how he had made a deal with Speaker John Boehner and that the House leader was unable to deliver on his promise because of the Tea Party caucus. The majority leader had no predictions for when the crisis would be resolved, Marshall said.

Reid took about 15 questions from those on the call, including local officials concerned about the impacts they were starting to hear about on businesses – i.e. the ripple effect on the private sector. “There are people who provide services to the federal government,” Marshall explained. “

The treasurer said Reid told those on the call of the “need to talk to your members of the congressional delegation who somehow feel the need to express discontent with Obamacare.” Maybe he meant Rep. Steven Horsford? He seems pretty discontented with it these days.

One other participant told me there was “a pretty good consensus that we did not want Reid to compromise. We didn’t want him or the president to appease the Tea Party.”

All for one, and….

Marshall has a unique perspective because as a young, pregnant Justice Department lawyer, she suffered through the 1995-1996 shutdown. “It was panicky,” she recalled. “I was furloughed for two weeks. It was very scary. I was pregnant  I didn’t know if we would get paid. We were declared non-essential.”

That prompted Marshall to ask Reid if, as had happened 18 years ago, the government was setting up mechanisms for people to get short-term loans to help pay their mortgages if need be. “I asked if they set up the structure, and he said that was beginning,” Marshall said.

I’m told Reid also tried to lighten the mood at times, including at one point telling Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins he would do anything for him except wear a cowboy hat.

Reid in a cowboy hat? Someone get me photo shop….