Angle plans to continue political career
Nevada Appeal News Service
FALLON – Sharron Angle, who recently lost a bid to unseat Sen. Harry Reid, said on Saturday she still has a strong desire to serve her fellow Nevadans, whether it’s working behind the scenes or a run at another office in two years.
Angle drew 44.55 percent of the vote in the general election, while Reid had 50.29 percent. The senate majority leader outdistanced Angle 362,785 votes to 321,361 on Nov. 2.
Angle was enthusiastically received during a speech in front of delegates at a state Republican meeting on Saturday in Fallon. Afterward, she spoke to the Lahontan Valley News, whose parent company owns the Nevada Appeal, in her first interview with Northern Nevada media since the general election.
Unlike politicians who disappear after an election loss, Angle said she enjoys meeting with the people and is looking toward 2012.
“I will always be involved in politics. I have a lot of options next cycle,” she said. “Lots of options.”
State Sen. Bill Raggio will be termed out of office in 2012. Angle lost to Raggio two years ago. She said that if U.S. Rep. Dean Heller decides to challenge Sen. John Ensign in the Republican primary in 2012, that opens up his District 2 seat.
Angle narrowly lost to Heller in the 2006 primary.
However, Angle said she is in no hurry to make a decision yet.
Looking back at her five-month campaign against Reid, Angle said she was surprised with the final outcome.
Leading up to the general election, most national polls showed her with a 3-4 percentage point lead over Reid. The Rasmussen Poll had Angle leading Reid by
4 percent, 49-45, going in into the last week of the campaign. Instead, she lost by 6 percent.
“It’s interesting to see how all the pollsters missed it and then called them (right) for the rest of it (other races),” Angle said.
After Angle received the endorsement of the growing tea party movement and defeated Sue Lowden in the primary in June, her campaign lost steam trying to regroup and solicit money to take on Reid. For three weeks, Reid’s campaign aired ads that portrayed Angle as too “extreme” for Nevada.
“We finally got our ads on TV. He was beating me unmercifully,” Angle said of the days after the June 8 primary. “We were able to get momentum, got commercials up and saw gains.”
Reflecting on the advertisements, Angle said she wishes the commercials had been more positive. Many national pundits had labeled the Angle-Reid race as one of the nastiest in the country.
“I would have liked to have run a more positive campaign and been able to put out a more positive message,” Angle said. “But it was not possible. He had battered me with his campaign ads and left me with no room.”
Angle gained ground against Reid and soon was locked in a race that remained close until Nov. 2. A defining moment came when Angle and Reid faced each other in their only debate on Oct. 13, two days before early voting opened.
“I had a coach, and she and I extensively talked about what needed to happen in the debate,” Angle pointed out. “My opening statement was good, and I tried to stick to what I wanted to say.”
During the debate, she became a bulldog, attacking Reid on his record and for being a career politician. She blamed Reid for helping to pass President Obama’s health care bill and supporting the administration’s agenda.
Looking Reid squarely in the eye, she delivered a line that became an instant sound bite.
“Man up, Harry Reid,” Angle snapped at the incumbent senator. “You need to understand we have a problem with Social Security.”
While Angle referred to the senator by name, she also picked up quickly on him calling her “my friend.”
“You have to be in politics to have a thick skin. It doesn’t bother me,” she said.
Yet, she was shocked when Joy Behar, host of her own program on HLN, called Angle a bitch.
“When Joy Behar called me that name on TV, she made me $150,000 that day (in campaign contributions). I sent her flowers (to thank her).”
Angle, though, said she was surprised with the name-calling.
“I don’t really understand the vitriol with the personal attacks. We should always be on the issues,” she said.
Angle also didn’t understand the logic of many state Republicans endorsing Reid for Senate, citing Reno Mayor Bob Cashell and Sparks Mayor Geno Martini.
“It surprised me a little bit, having Republicans for Reid with two mayors coming out in opposition (to me),” she said. “That was the most surprising blow. I always thought in the end there is some kind of loyalty, but they shifted loyalties to the fellow who could deliver the pork.”
Angle, who has spent almost half of her adult life living in rural Nevada, said she has a soft spot in her heart for the territory outside Washoe and Clark counties. She carried the rural vote 2-1 against Reid.
“They were more issue-oriented than the two larger counties. We also saw that in 2008,” she said. “I find the people in the rural counties more educated on the issues and seem to be more tied into their communities. The urban areas seem to have more of a disconnect from the issues that (impact) their communities.”
She always considered her race against Reid as a state race, not a national one.
“It was incredible the scrutiny this race had. This was a Nevada race,” she said.
Angle, who said she considers herself an optimist with a vision, sees good things ahead for both the state Republican party and herself. She received several invitations to speak at Lincoln Day dinners next year and also at some national events.
The former assemblywoman and schoolteacher said she saw a very energized electorate during an off-year election. Angle said she saw younger voters looking at the issues and voting because of their principles.
“They were engaged in the political process and eager to vote. That’s exciting,” she said. “In an off-year election 64 percent (turnout) is huge. The campaigning has brought people in the arena. County parties are energized all over the state and conservatism is reborn, not only in baby boomers but also in our children.”