Nevada Sen. Harry Reid has out-raised his Tea Party-backed opponent Sharron Angle by millions of dollars, but a recent influx of cash for ads targeting Reid appears to be putting the Senate leader on the defensive.
“Sharron Angle is spending $500,000 a week on negative TV ads. Her pal, Karl Rove, is flooding the airwaves with an equally sizable (and lie-filled) ad buy,” read a Sept. 13 e-mail sent by Reid to his supporters. “[W]e recognize Angle’s Tea Party base and Karl Rove’s millions will keep this race close until the very end. We need every dollar we can raise to match her.”
The letter was referring Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads, groups associated with Rove, which have sponsored an $800,000 media blitz against Reid.
The organization also announced two Reid fundraisers in the Washington, D.C. area with donation fees of up to $5,000 per person.
While the tone of the letter may sound like Reid is scrambling for dough, a look at his campaign treasury shows that Angle hasn’t even come close to raising as much money as his campaign has.
With nearly $9 million in Reid’s war chest to Angle’s $1.7 million, according to the latest federal campaign filings, the Senate’s Democratic leader should have little difficulty fighting back against attacks and outspending his opponent. Patriot Majority, a third-party group that supports Reid, has spent more than $900,000 in the media, according to Politico.
“It’s just nonsense,” said Elizabeth Crum, editor of the Nevada News Bureau, an online outlet that covers local politics. “There’s no way they can claim she’s a fundraising threat.”
Money is by far the least of Reid’s problems, political analysts say.
According to political observers in Nevada, Reid’s millions are doing little to protect him from a political and economic environment that polling data show is keeping him from gaining an edge on Angle. Despite Reid’s attempts to paint Angle as an extremist, the latest Rasmussen survey puts the race at a dead heat.
“I think they’re kind of worried about getting outgunned here in the last month,” said David Damore, a professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “There’s some concern here that they’re not going to be able to match the enthusiasm.”
Jon Ralston, a veteran Nevada political reporter for the Las Vegas Sun, said that while Reid may be searching for extra support, he’s certainly not desperate for campaign cash.
“He has unlimited access to money,” Ralston said. “He will raise much more money than she will. I don’t see him as scrambling for money.”
That’s not to say it will help Reid much, Ralston added.
“He’s not very well liked in the state, the economy is terrible. He’s wearing a lot of that and no amount of money is going to change how people feel about Harry Reid,” he said.