All the Difference: Tea Party endorsement pushes little known Republican to the front in race to unseat Harry Reid

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

Republican Sharron Angle was polling in the single digits, hardly a serious contender to take on Nevada Sen. Harry Reid in November, when the Tea Party Express endorsed her candidacy in April.

A month later, a new poll shows Angle ahead of a host of other Republicans, some of them nationally known, in the race to unseat the Democratic majority leader. Among those Angle has pulled ahead of are Sue Lowden, Danny Tarkanian and John Chachas. The survey, by Public Policy Polling, has Angle at 29 percent, Lowden at 26 percent and Tarkanian at 24 percent. Tea Party Express is calling on Tarkanian, another Tea Party favorite, to drop out of the race.

So who is this Joe the Plumber-endorsed, Tea Party-backed candidate who has swooped in to displace Lowden, the establishment pick, from the lead position?

Angle served four terms in the Nevada assembly, and narrowly lost a primary bid for Congress in 2006. She’s a Southern Baptist, but has faced rumors — which  she has denied — that she’s affiliated with Scientology. Angle’s campaign did not immediately return requests to interview the candidate. She’s a Tea Partier, and has a voting record that proves her conservative bona fides, the Tea Party Express says.

Earlier this week, the Club for Growth endorsed Angle, a snub to Lowden, the former state GOP chair, who has been lampooned since suggesting recently that bartering (including with chickens) might be an effective way to lower health-care costs. RedState’s Erick Erickson tells The Daily Caller that he has switched his support from Tarkanian to Angle.

Lowden is regarded as the favorite of the Republican establishment, which considers her more moderate than Angle, as well as a better fund-raiser. Angle’s rise has angered some in the party. “Anything’s possible with so many people in the race, but if Angle’s the GOP candidate there would be a lot of supporters who would turn to Reid,” Reno state Sen. Bill Raggio told the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week.

Meanwhile, some grassroots activists have complained about the Tea Party Express endorsement of Angle. One rival organization, Tea Party Nation in Tennessee, issued a heated statement this week Friday reminding the Tea Party Express that when “there are multiple conservative candidates, we should not make an endorsement.  We should have the candidates endorse the Tea Party Movement.”

“At Tea Party Nation, we do not consider asking a conservative candidate to quit a race to be an appropriate thing to do,” said the group’s leader, Judson Phillips, of the call for Tarkanian to drop out.  “Especially when this comes from a national group. Nevada has many good Tea Party groups and any call for a candidate to withdraw should come from those groups who are familiar with local politics, not a national group.”

Phillips warned that “this statement should not be read as a civil war in the Tea Party movement.” The Tea Party Express’s “hearts are in the right place, just not their strategy,” he said.

The Tea Party Express has made electing Angle a priority, firing off e-mails on her behalf several times a week. When a Nevada businessman named Scott Ashjian announced he was running for Reid’s seat on the Tea Party third party ticket, the group released a TV ad calling him a fraud.

  • doncicciofitipaldi

    This is GREAT news for Harry. All he has to do now is simply shine a bright light on her extreme right-wing views and he’ll win. A couple of interviews with the press should take care of that one. Purge, republican, purge!!! I love it.

  • godgnsguts

    Looks like woody allen’s lime light is dimming by the second ;)

  • JoshINHB

    Angle’s rise has angered some in the party. “Anything’s possible with so many people in the race, but if Angle’s the GOP candidate there would be a lot of supporters who would turn to Reid,” Reno state Sen. Bill Raggio

    That statement shows how corrupt the two party system has become.
    And why we need to purge A-Hole professional pols.


    Well try as they did,progressive socialist libturds couldn’t lie enough to make CONSTITUTIONALISTS fade away and a vibrant TEAPARTY is making it’s way to save AMERICA from a wannabe socialist dictator named HUSSEIN.

    • doncicciofitipaldi

      Yu should really stay away from that pipe. Please.

      • B.O. STINKS

        You’re a real fartsmeller,I mean smart fellow.

  • sunnyr

    I am a North-Westerner who is supporting Sharon Angle. I would love to see this conservative woman take Dirty Harry’s seat, after it is thoroughly fumigated of course.