Voters here in northern Nevada are very familiar with Republican Sharron Angle, the local pol whose national profile is growing due to near-saturation coverage of her race against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Whether she’s got the support of her neighbors is another question.
Republicans have mixed feelings about the former state legislator who is trying to take down Reid, the most powerful man in the Senate. And with just over two months before voters choose which candidate to send to Washington, Angle has Republicans unnerved by her campaign trail stumbles – even those in her hometown.
“I hate to copy from the ads, but Sharron Angle is too extreme,” said 81-year-old Reno resident Walt Mackenzie, a retiree and a registered Republican. “There are a lot of Republicans who just can’t put up with the ticket she’s trying to sell.”
Angle clearly recognizes the need to correct course and that time is running out. After hiring experienced staff, opening up new campaign offices and taking cautious first steps to make herself more available to the mainstream media, Angle now is taking her effort to the next level: she’s made an enormous media buy by Nevada standards, the likes of which the state has not yet seen this election cycle.
POLITICO has learned that Angle’s team has spent a whopping $584,000 in ads in this week alone in the Reno and Las Vegas media markets – by far the biggest single-week ad buy of any campaign in Nevada this election. Next week, she plans to pump in another $160,000 in her ads defending herself on Social Security and hammering Reid on the slumping economy.
By spending huge amounts responding to Reid’s attacks on her Social Security views, Angle’s team has essentially signaled that it’s playing defense in a campaign that Republicans desperately wanted to make a referendum on Reid’s tenure as majority leader. And it’s not a trend Angle can afford to continue, several Republicans here say.
“If this race is about Harry Reid, you win; if you talk about Social Security, what’s the race about? It’s about her,” said Danny Tarkanian, the Las Vegas businessman who lost the primary to Angle. “I think Angle is giving him more opportunities then she would have liked, and he’s been able to get back into the race.”
For its part, Angle’s team senses it has weathered the storm since public polls show the race remains a dead heat despite the hits she’s taken. The huge ad buys may have something to do with that, but Angle’s team realizes she must now demonstrate she can actually win, so well-funded third party groups and deep-pocketed GOP donors will be convinced of her viability and encouraged to get fully behind her candidacy.