(Steve Sebelius) – Bryan Schroyer, political director of the Tea Party Express, described former Nevada Assemblywoman Sharron Angle as “the most authentic conservative in the race” to defeat U.S. Sen. Harry Reid. On that, he’s right.
If you doubt that, recall the Review-Journal’s profile of the stalwart Angle. She’s an authentic conservative all right. This is the woman who voted no in the Legislature so frequently — and on matters of such wide consensus — the lopsided 41-1 votes were dubbed “41-to-Angle.”
This is the woman who argued unsuccessfully — and not incorrectly — that the 3 percent/8 percent property tax caps for residential and commercial property in Nevada, respectfully, violated the state constitution’s requirement that taxation be “uniform and equal.” The woman who led a lawsuit to overturn the ill-considered Guinn v. Legislature ruling in 2003. The woman who has tried repeatedly — and, again, unsuccessfully — to impose a California Proposition 13-style property tax cap in Nevada.
You can’t say she’s not conservative. And while you also can’t say she’s been successful, she’s come close. She almost defeated U.S. Rep. Dean Heller in 2006 with a strong campaign (funded by the Club for Growth) that attacked him on his right flank.
But, to damn with faint praise, Harry Reid is no Dean Heller. He’ll be well-funded, and Angle will need a lot of money simply to survive her crowded GOP primary, much less beat him in November. Surely, the Tea Party will be good for plenty of that cash. And surely, whoever emerges from the Republican fray will get national dollars to go after Reid.
But remember, Angle scored just 5 percent in the Review-Journal’s most recent poll of the race, 41 points behind front-runner Sue Lowden, with just 54 days to go until the primary. Despite being in the race for months, Angle barely beat out last-minute challenger Chad Christensen. And like Christensen, Angle is more a regional phenomenon than a statewide presence.
Are there enough Tea Party adherents in the Silver State to change that? Will the imprimatur of the Tea Party even matter to many voters? If there’s a massive TV campaign for Angle, can she overcome the lead enjoyed by Lowden? The fact that these are even questions shows the Tea Party stuck with principle over pragmatism in making it’s choice. And in that, Angle and the Tea Party are a match made in conservative heaven.
(Mr. Sebelius is editor of CityLife newspaper)