Delaware candidate and Sen. Reid are fast friends

Two months ago last week, Delaware Senate candidate Chris Coons (D) spoke to the Senate Democratic Conference during its weekly lunch.

“I gave about a 10-minute speech, got a standing ovation,” Coons told The Ballot Box.

Appreciation wasn't the only thing he took away from the meeting.

"I've so far received about $140,000 [in campaign contributions] from 30 sitting senators, which is a pretty substantial response," Coons said. "And a number of them have committed to hosting events for me."

To Coons's surprise, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was one of the senators who offered to host a fundraiser. "He called and he offered," Coons said. "We've got a date and a place and everything."

Coons said he couldn't go into the details until Reid's office made the official announcement. But he sounded upbeat about their growing friendship. "He and I have developed a really great relationship. I've been very pleasantly surprised," he said. "I didn't know him before this.

"And we have these fairly long personal talks and he's a very straight-up, engaging guy who's very concerned about my family. We talked about values, about 'How do you manage it?' and balancing things."

Coons didn’t expect to find the majority leader so personable, he said. "He's a very gentle, gracious person."

Several people told Coons that Reid has been talking him up during fundraising events for his own reelection campaign.

"I've been very pleasantly surprised to hear that from folks in New York and Chicago, as well as here several times," Coons said. "He's taken a real personal interest in the race."

Coons, the New Castle County executive, is expected to face Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) in the general election. He's been trailing in some recent polls but says his campaign operation is gearing up thanks to some help from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).

Coming off a "cold start," Coons said the DSCC lent him staff to get his campaign up and running.

Still, he maintains he's managing his own race.

"They’re very clear about, 'This is your race to win, we're here as a resource, we want to help you with strategic advice,' " Coons said. "But they are not telling me how to run or what positions to take."

From Vice President Joe Biden — Delaware's most famous Democrat — Coons said he'd received a "general offer of support and encouragement."

Reid's office did not respond to a request for comment.