Image: Sen. Harry Reid embarks on bus tour throughout his home state Nevada
Justin Sullivan  /  Getty Images
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is greeted by supporters during a recent rally at University of Nevada-Reno. A Republican rival says the GOP understimates Reid's re-election chances.
updated 5/27/2010 9:57:42 PM ET 2010-05-28T01:57:42

In an ominous warning for Republicans, a U.S. Senate candidate in Nevada said Thursday that the party's chances of ousting Majority Leader Harry Reid are slipping away and his leading GOP rivals would be unlikely to beat him in November.

"Republicans could very well snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the case of Harry Reid," said banker John Chachas, one of 12 candidates seeking the GOP nomination in the June 8 primary.

In an interview, Chachas said Reid is being underestimated and leading Republicans Sue Lowden, Sharron Angle and Danny Tarkanian each have "impediments" that give the senator an advantage, including questions about their ability to raise money nationally and "intellectual gravitas."

"I think none of the three that are there present a particularly formidable candidate to beat Reid," Chachas told The Associated Press.

Image: John Chachas
Isaac Brekken  /  AP file
Republican U.S. Senate primary candidate John Chachas warned that his party doesn't understand incumbent Sen. Harry Reid's strength.

Chachas cites concerns
When asked if Angle, a conservative with tea party support, could defeat Reid in November, Chachas said, "Mathematically, I don't believe she can. Frankly, I've had the same concern about Sue (Lowden) and Dan (Tarkanian)."

Spokesmen for Lowden and Tarkanian dismissed the remarks. Angle's campaign didn't immediately return messages.

Chachas, who has lagged fellow Republicans in polls, "is entitled to his opinion. I don't share it and the facts don't bear it out," said Lowden campaign manager Robert Uithoven.

Reid appears vulnerable
Reid's popularity has fallen with the state's economy — unemployment is 13.7 percent — and polls have shown him trailing leading Republicans in head-to-head matchups. But Chachas said Angle and Tarkanian are too conservative to attract votes from independents, and Lowden, who once led the state GOP, is viewed as too close to the establishment.

Chachas is launching new radio ads but hasn't decided if he will air TV spots, the best way to reach voters statewide. He said he probably would have dropped out of the race if he was confident that any of the leading Republicans could beat Reid.

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