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Move over McCarran: State lawmaker wants to rename airport after Harry Reid

Posted: 5:37 PM, Jul 01, 2016
Updated: 2016-07-01 21:48:16-04

Nevada lawmakers could consider renaming the state's largest airport after retiring Democratic Senator Harry Reid.

Democratic State Senator Tick Segerblom plans to introduce a measure renaming McCarran International Airport that lawmakers could approve in the 2017 legislative session.

Segerblom said the time has come for Nevada to move away from the checkered legacy of longtime Nevada Senator Pat McCarran, the airport's namesake.

"I think people it may take a few years to adjust, but we don't want our town and our major airport named after somebody who's history is just so repulsive," he said.

McCarran, who served as one of Nevada's senators from 1933 until his death in 1954, was one of the most powerful political figures in state history and authored the landmark Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938. Modern lawmakers including Reid have tried to move the state away from McCarran's image over issues with the late senator's anti-immigrant and anti-semitic views.

Segerblom said he didn't want to wait until Reid dies to start celebrating the longtime Nevada senator, and brushed off suggestions that the Reid's many narrow electoral victories would indicate  

"As Democrats, we owe it to our state to acknowledge what he’s done for us," he said. "He’s preserved more land as far as federal protections, he’s brought the solar industry through, he has put us on the map, nationally and internationally, and so I think it's important to recognize that."

Segerblom acknowledged that passage of the bill would likely require Democrats to retake a majority of seats in the Legislature, and would likely cost thousands of dollars to make branding changes.

A spokeswoman for McCarran airport declined to comment on the possible name change. Nevada's Legislature will convene on February 6, 2017.