LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — It was Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom who pushed to change the name of then-McCarran International Airport to honor former Sen. Harry Reid.
Reid, an American politician who represented Nevada in the U.S. Senate, died Tuesday at age 82.
Reid served in the U.S. Senate for 30 years, including eight years as Democratic majority leader, and was the longest-serving senator in Nevada history when he retired in 2017.
Reid served as majority leader from 2006 to 2014 before retiring from politics in 2017 as one of the most influential and powerful Democratic leaders ever to serve in Washington.
“If he called, you took the call,” Segerblom said from his Las Vegas home on Wednesday. “He’d call up and say, ‘This is Harry,’ rattle off a few things and then hang up the phone.”
Clark County commissioners voted in February to change the airport’s name to Harry Reid International. The name change took effect just two weeks before the senator’s death.
Reid did not attend the ceremony, but watched a video of it, Segerblom said, adding he was more of an admirer than a friend.
It was Reid who pushed him to run as chair of the Nevada Democratic Party in the early ’90s, a race Segerblom ended up winning. He lost a second try last year.
“Last time I talked to him he said, ‘Don’t say something you don’t believe in. Don’t let them push you into something, just stick to your guns,’” Segerblom said. “I think if you asked anybody about Harry Reid that’s who he was.”
The change to Harry Reid International Airport was financed through private donations. The changeover will take several years to complete.
“It’s really a teaching moment, and hopefully when people come here from around the world, a lot of people know the name, now will recognize that, and locally, we’ll appreciate that,” Segerblom said.
No matter one’s political leaning, Segerblom said all Americans should appreciate a politician who pushed for his home state.
“Having somebody that could literally pick up the phone and call anybody on the phone and they would answer the phone and they would respond — especially the president — made a world of difference for Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake … all of our issues here in Las Vegas,” Segerblom said.
Funeral arrangements for Reid have not been announced.