Dark-horse Senate Candidate Surges in Nevada GOP Primary

Sharron Angle, a former state legislator who was lagging far behind in the polls only six weeks ago, has suddenly surged into the lead against her two major rivals in Tuesday’s crowded Republican U.S. Senate primary in Nevada. The winner will face Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in November.

Angle, a perennial candidate of sorts after leaving the state assembly in 2006, was polling only five percent of the vote when the influential Tea Party Express — a creation of longtime GOP operative Sal Russo — took her under its wings on April 15. Thanks to a $300,000 Tea Party Express television and radio blitz, Angle quickly found herself within striking distance of front-runners Sue Lowden, a former state senator, television anchorwoman and ex-New Jersey beauty queen, and Danny Tarkanian, son of legendary UNLV basketball coach Jerry “Tark the Shark” Tarkanian. 

Angle received another significant boost recently when she was endorsed by the conservative Club for Growth, an organization that helped her raise $900,000 in an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2006. 

According to her campaign web site, the 60-year-old Angle favors abolishing the federal income tax and wants to audit the Federal Reserve. She also wants to seal the nation’s borders and opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants. 

As Minority Whip in the legislature, Angle vigorously opposed an $800 million tax hike in 2003 and single-handedly led the fight to have that massive tax increase — approved by simple majority rather than by a two-thirds vote as mandated by the state Constitution — overturned by the Nevada Supreme Court. 

Today, the conservative Tea Party favorite unexpectedly finds herself in the lead in what is shaping to be one of the most closely-watched Senate races in the country this fall. According to a recent Suffolk University Poll, Angle now enjoys a seven-point lead over real estate developer Tarkanian, who as a point guard for his father’s Runnin’ Rebels once led his team to 24 consecutive victories and the school’s first-ever top ranking.

Lowden, a former state chairwoman who once comfortably led the primary contest before ludicrously suggesting that Nevadans barter with their physicians by using chickens to pay for doctor’s visits, is now languishing in third place with 25 percent. 

A Lowden campaign spokesman dismissed the recent poll results while desperately pointing to a Mason-Dixon poll released last week showing his candidate clinging to a one-point lead. 

Meanwhile, Wall Street banker John Chachas, a third generation Nevadan who returned to his roots to challenge Reid, barely registers in the polls, but he did pick up the support of two lesser-known candidates earlier this week — professional poker player Brian Nadell and television producer Gary Bernstein — both of whom recently abandoned their campaigns for the Republican nomination.

The Harvard-educated Chachas, who was raised on a cattle ranch in Ely, believes that Angle is simply too conservative to defeat Harry Reid. Indeed, some Democrats are already beginning to compare the conservative Nevadan to embattled Kentucky Republican Rand Paul, whose controversial views and candidacy are being portrayed as far outside the mainstream of American politics.

There are ten active GOP candidates for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday’s primary ballot, but all eyes are now focused on Sharron Angle, the darling of the Tea Party crowd who once trailed by forty points.

One Comment

  1. As with Kentucky, another instance where the Tea Party’s good news is bad news for the GOP. Reid can still be defeated, and probably isn’t better than 50/50, but it shouldn’t be that close.


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