The surprise of her win over previous front runner Sue Lowden was heightened by the fact that she easily out polled Lowden in every county in the state except for Eureka County. In Clark County, supposedly a bastion of Lowden strength, the numbers were equally startling because Angle had 38 percent of the vote to Lowden’s 30 percent.
What caused such a relatively unknown statewide candidate to surge so dramatically in the closing weeks of the campaign? There were several reasons, not the least of which was that the Lowden campaign began a downward spiral that it never recovered when Lowden suggested “chickens for barter” some time ago. Adding to that, and accelerating the slide, was the question of who had title to the pricey RV that Lowden used in the campaign.
There were many political insiders that said the Harry Reid forces might have had a strong hand in Lowden’s defeat, since they saw Angle as the easier adversary in the general election. However, as the saying goes, “be careful what you wish for.”
Reid’s camp might have underestimated the feisty Angle. Some indication of that was on national radio Thursday on the Rush Limbaugh Show, hosted by a stand in for Rush, when Angle had a lengthy interview which was capped by the report that the latest poll had her at a 50 to 39 lead over Reid.
Angle's fortunes were further enhanced in the primary by endorsements by the Tea Party Express, Joe the Plumber and the syndicated, highly rated talk show host Mark Levine.
Numerous pundits took to the airwaves on Wednesday and Thursday following Tuesday’s close of the polls and most said that Angle would have to abandon some of her far right positions in order to appeal to moderate Nevada Republicans and the large number of Independent voters in the Silver State.
Conversely, several longtime Nevada campaign managers said that Angle should stick to her primary guns and even harden her far right stance since she is going up against one of the most “hard left” Washington politicians in the person of Harry Reid.
Another factor that weighs heavily in Angle’s favor in the General Election is the undeniable one that there is an anti incumbency feeling across the country, based on results Tuesday in other state primaries. Certainly, Reid is the poster boy for long-term incumbency.
When interviewed on Thursday on the Limbaugh Show, Angle was asked how she hoped to compete against the $25 million that Reid is supposed to amass for his campaign. Angle's response was: "I'm right now asking for the one million people listening to this program to send me $25."
Pretty quick thinking for a supposed ingénue on the big stage of national politics.
One of the think tank type pundits who appeared on TV regarding the upcoming Angle/Reid battle said that the first thing she has to do is employ a speech coach in order to get rid of the stringent quality her voice sometimes seems to have.
Another fellow pundit noted: “At times she sounds just like Hillary Clinton.” Speaking of the Clinton’s, former President Bill Clinton has already announced plans to visit Las Vegas to stump for Reid.
Since southern Nevada has been Harry’s strongest suit in previous elections, it is a safe bet that Angle will spend a lot of time there touting her lead over Lowden in the primary final count.
To her credit, Angle has already received reassurance from the Republican National Committee’s Michael Steele that plenty of support and dollars will be coming her way for the general election. This because of the low approval rating in Nevada that has dogged Reid ever since the Obama administration took over in the nation’s capitol.
Angle herself is no stranger to hard-fought campaigns as she served in the Nevada State Assembly and took on well established state Republican leaders such as Rep. Dean Heller and Sen. Bill Raggio. Although she lost the last two of those races, she has succeeded in building a pretty solid base of support around the state as her county dominance in the primary attests.
Canny political observers say that the best thing that Angle has going for her is that, despite her solid housewifey appearance, she is a pit bull when she gets on the campaign trail and goes after her opponent. In addition, they note there is some similarity between her and Sarah Palin since Angle expresses herself in “no nonsense,” plain talking discourse when at the podium. Currently, that seems to resonate well with the voting community. This is the race to watch for this summer.
In other primary contests, there was a bit of a nail biter in the Ben Kieckhefer/Ty Cobb race to replace retiring state Sen. Randolph Townsend.
Cobb, like Lowden, seemed to self implode when he was caught not long ago trampling a Sheila Leslie campaign sign. In the Senate district of that race, it is usually a “given” that the winner of the Republican primary will be the victor in the fall. However, Kieckhefer has pledged to continue on in his same aggressive campaign mode up until November.
Another race that lived up to its early billing was the solid win that former Judge Brian Sandoval posted over incumbent Gov. Jim Gibbons. The defeated governor has said that she he lose the primary, his dream is to move to his ranch in Elko and become a cowboy. Not a bad choice for a guy who has had one of the most varied careers in Nevada political history.
Harry Spencer is a freelance writer in Reno. His column about the past and present of northern Nevada appears weekly in the Tribune.
Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in Harry Spencer’s column are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tribune.