The Republican Party has to defend 24 U.S. Senate seats up for reelection this year and will lose control of the senate if they’re defeated in five of those races.
But the GOP has been confident it could win at least one of the 10 seats the Democrats have to defend, minority leader Harry Reid’s seat in Nevada. The party establishment is backing Rep. Joe Heck, who they expect will take on former attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto in November to replace the retiring Reid.
Now along comes Sharron Angle, who announced she’ll oppose Heck in the party primary.
Angle is a Tea Party darling who served eight years in the Nevada Assembly before challenging Reid in 2010, one of the more bizarre races political junkies have witnessed in recent times. Her backers spent $30 million on the campaign, only to see Reid steam roll her on election day.
Reid was so anxious to run against her, his supporters set up a PAC that actively promoted her candidacy in the primary. Republican voters took the bait and made Reid’s reelection a foregone conclusion.
Angle developed a reputation in the Assembly for voting no on everything; one of the standing jokes in Carson City was that the vote was “41 and Angle.” Then there is her unique view of the world.
She once told a Tea Party rally we’ll have to use “Second Amendment remedies” if “this Congress keeps going to way it is.” In a state that is heavily Hispanic–heck, even the Republican governor is Hispanic–she lacks a certain empathy for her fellow citizens.
When a Hispanic man who works for the Republican National Committee introduced himself one day, she asked: “Are you an illegal?” When he said he was not only a citizen but a military vet, she asked: “Is that how you got legal?” She once told a classroom of Hispanic students: “Some of you look a little more Asian to me.”
During her run for the Senate, she told an interviewer at Fox News that “We need to have the press be our friend…We want them to ask the questions we want to answer so that they report the news the way we want it to be reported.”
You can appreciate that approach when Angle said during the campaign: “People ask me, ‘What are you going to do to create jobs in your state?’ Well, that’s not my job as a U.S. Senator.” She then spent the last two weeks of the campaign avoiding the media and meeting with supporters in private.
“The reflex is mockery,” wrote John Ralston, long-time political columnist for the Reno Gazette Journal, when Angle announced her candidacy last week. “For Democrats, this is like waiting for that sequel that you thought was never going to happen to the movie you loved so much, and then, without warning, it’s released and you can’t believe your luck.”
Ralston suggested Democrats might want to dust off Harry Reid’s game plan and create a PAC promoting Angle’s candidacy in the primary. But Republicans wouldn’t be that stupid again. Would they?