Whether you know it or not, you’re on the minds of some very impressive folks these days as the race for U.S. Senate between Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican challenger Sharron Angle grinds on.
The latest Las Vegas Review-Journal/8NewsNow survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research shows the race well within the margin of error with Reid leading Angle, 45 percent to 44 percent with the rest going to other candidates, none of the above or the undecided category.
Obviously, there’s still plenty of time before the November election, but the race is gaining increasing interest from cash-fat political action committees and members of the national political press.
Both candidates are taking advantage of third-party, private-interest groups, which are sponsoring some of the most vicious attack ads of the campaign. In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on television. Angle hasn’t come close to raising the estimated $25 million Reid’s team has said their candidate will be able to collect, but she is spending plenty in an effort to trade punches with the senator from Searchlight who likes to remind people he used to box.
For the first few months of Campaign ’10, the national press limited its coverage of the Reid-Angle campaign mostly to a handful of fly-over feature pieces and whatever “gotcha” moments the candidates provided. For Reid, being quoted in a book calling the president a “light-skinned Negro” gave his opponent something to use. Angle’s comments about “Second Amendment remedies” has been used by her opponent to attempt to paint her as a political extremist.
Now the national political press has turned its eye to Nevada, where most of the population is in the South but most of the colorful quotes are in the small towns from Laughlin to Wendover. Rural residents can expect to run into reporters from now until November. I’m sure they sincerely love Nevada even if they fail to pronounce it correctly and have never had dust on their loafers.
As if to illustrate that the Nevada Senate race is now on the national radar screen, The New York Times recently published an interview with Angle. And Peter Grier of the Christian Science Monitor wrote a piece that captures the importance of the campaign to many under the headline, “Harry Reid vs. Sharron Angle: this season’s must-see political slugfest.”
Grier writes, “Every few election cycles a congressional contest comes along that features such high stakes, such combative opponents that it becomes a jaw-dropping political thriller that fascinates average voters and political professionals alike.
“Harry Reid versus Sharron Angle is one such race.”
See. It’s not just us. Reid-Angle has the potential to be the political race of the year.
Ellen Sterling writes in the left-leaning Huffington Post, “The United States Senate race in Nevada has become one that everyone, everywhere, seems to be watching as it pits the incumbent, the most powerful person in the Senate, against a Tea Party acolyte. Sure, it has national repercussions and would be watched anyway, but Angle has left people gasping in surprise, shocked and bizarrely amused.”
While the candidates battle it out and present their largely conflicting political ideologies while kicking each other in the shin, the rest of the political media is shifting the race to the front burner. As long as it stays close — and I’ve heard no one with any sense announce that it will be a lopsided victory — you can anticipate lots of talk about Nevada, its gaudy population centers and its sun-baked small towns, for the next two months.
Let’s just hope they pronounce Nevada right.
John L. Smith writes a weekly column on rural Nevada. He also writes a daily column for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.