A new Suffolk University poll released Thursday shows GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle surging to the front of the pack in a close race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in the Silver State’s GOP primary.
“The ‘Tea Party Express’ endorsement of Angle has energized her effort to rise from relative political obscurity to flat-out front-runner,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.
Among the 13 candidates vying to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, Angle, at 33 percent, led Las Vegas businessman Danny Tarkanian, at 26 percent, former chairwoman of the Nevada Republican state party and former Nevada state Sen. Sue Lowden, at 25 percent, businessman John Chachas, at 4 percent, Assemblyman Chad Christensen, at 4 percent, Dr. Garn Mabey, at 1 percent and U.S. Marine Bill Parson, at 1 percent, with 7 percent still undecided, according to principals at the research center.
The Suffolk University poll is the first to show Angle leading in the June 8 primary.
“The Nevada GOP is drawing a right angle in the quest for Capitol Hill,” Paleologos said. “Although Danny Tarkanian is more personally popular, and Sue Lowden is seen as the more viable candidate against Harry Reid, voters are lining up behind Angle in great numbers, especially in the Washoe County area.”
And what will Nevadans be getting with Sharron Angle? Buckle your seatbelts, kids, she’s even worse than Sue Chicken Lady Lowden! From the LAS VEGAS SUN:
Carson City — Surging Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle has had to defend her support of a prison program that her opponents linked to Scientology. Trying to head off that theme, Angle has eliminated from her campaign website mention of prominent members of the church, whom she worked with on other legislative efforts.
Angle has removed the claim that she, along with actresses Kelly Preston and Jenna Elfman, approached Sen. John Ensign to sponsor legislation prohibiting school employees from requiring students to take psychotropic drugs, such as anti-depressants.
Preston and Elfman are high-profile members of the Church of Scientology, which does not believe in the use of psychiatric drugs.
Instead, Angle’s website, sharronangle.com, says only that Ensign sponsored a bill “at Angle’s request.”
The apparent scrubbing of her website of the potentially controversial issue — critics of Scientology call it a cult — comes as Angle gains ground in the Republican primary, which has narrowed to a three-way race to take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Sue Lowden, formerly the clear front-runner, has begun attacking Angle, including for her support in 2003 of a drug-treatment program for inmates that included saunas and massages as treatment.
Angle has taken rigid ideological stands that may help her in the primary, but would likely alienate many independents and Democrats in November.
Angle, a Southern Baptist who has quoted scripture during media interviews, has never advocated Scientology, [Jerry Stacy, spokesman for Angle,] said. “This is all about blowing this thing out of proportion — making it sound like she’s a Scientologist.”
Though she never presented a bill, Angle did attempt to organize a legislative trip to see the inmate treatment program at a Mexican jail. She made the proposal after visiting the facility with a former corrections department director. The legislative trip would have been arranged and paid for by a member of the Church of Scientology, and critics say the program is modeled on the faith’s teachings.
Angle lobbied Gov. Kenny Guinn to support the program, Guinn confirmed Monday.
The website now says only that Angle “made it unlawful nationally for anyone but a physician to require the use psychotropic drugs (such as Ritalin) for public school attendance by certain children. Senator John Ensign sponsored the bill at Angle’s request.”
Angle’s website formerly said that accompanying her to Ensign’s office was [Robin] Read, who heads the National Foundation of Women Legislators. That organization, which some say has links to Scientology, promotes the drug treatment program that Angle advocated for in 2003.
The group’s website lists Angle as a legislative chairwoman of the Business, Housing & Economic Development Committee.
And then there’s this, from the Reno Gazette-Journal:
For former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, what some have labeled as her quixotic bid for the U.S. Senate is more than a political campaign.
She likens it to a crusade.
“We’re called as Americans to be vigilant to protect our liberty,” she said in a recent interview. “At some point in each of our lives, we’re called to service to defend and protect our Constitution.”
In Angle’s eyes, the country is under attack and she’s willing to go to battle.
“What is a little bit disconcerting and concerning is the inability for sporting goods stores to keep ammunition in stock,” she said. “That tells me the nation is arming. What are they arming for if it isn’t that they are so distrustful of their government? They’re afraid they’ll have to fight for their liberty in more Second Amendment kinds of ways?
“That’s why I look at this as almost an imperative. If we don’t win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?”
Since leaving the Nevada Assembly, Angle has worked relentlessly and unsuccessfully to win higher office, believing that her staunch conservatism and band of devoted supporters would be enough. She has come close.
This year, Angle counts among her soldiers an army of tea party activists, who have gathered in boisterous crowds by the thousands to protest the Democratic majority.
She won an endorsement from the Tea Party Express, a national political action committee created by longtime Republican operatives to organize the demonstrators who show up to the protests.
Her emergence as a front-runner, however, has highlighted the weaknesses that have led to her defeat in prior races.
Angle is criticized for a dogmatism that has prevented her from building strong enough coalitions to pass any significant conservative reform. She built a reputation on being the lone ‘no’ vote on important legislation, a reputation she wears as a badge of honor.
And she has put forward ideas that critics have painted as too fringe to be acceptable to most voters, such as trying to implement a drug-treatment program for prisoners developed by a Scientologist and used in Mexican prisons that relies on therapeutic massage and sauna treatments.
Her Republican opponents have sought to undermine her conservative credentials, pointing to spending bills she has supported while opposing the taxes needed to pay for the new programs, and her decision to twice support measures that would have increased lawmaker salaries.