Harry Reid was born in Searchlight, Nevada, in a small cabin without indoor plumbing, and attended a two-room elementary school until the eighth grade, when he started hitchhiking 45 miles across open desert to high school in Henderson, Nevada. Businessmen in Henderson helped him go on to college at Utah State University, and he went on to get a law degree from George Washington University, working full-time jobs in the House mailroom and then as a Capitol Police officer to support him and his family. After serving as Henderson’s City Attorney, at age 28 he was elected to the Nevada State Assembly, and then in 1970, at the age of 30, he became the state’s youngest Lieutenant Governor.
Runs for the U.S. Senate in 1974 and Las Vegas mayor in 1976 resulted in defeat, and Reid assumed his political career was over, until in 1977, the governor appointed him chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, where for four years he made headlines with his unrelenting fight to clean up the gaming industry. He won the first of two terms to the House of Representatives in 1982, then was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986. Currently serving his fourth term, he was unanimously elected Senate Minority Leader in 2004 and, after the Democrats captured the Senate in 2006, Senate Majority Leader.