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A Circus of a Senate Race in Nevada

Can Republicans field a candidate who can beat Harry Reid?

12:25 PM, Jun 3, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Lowden's campaign has been hitting Angle for once supporting a drug rehab program in Mexico with ties to Scientology, where prisoners ate organic beef, got massages, and had access to a sauna--"what I can only describe as a sweat box," Angle told a Nevada paper. "I believed [the program] would cut the expenses related to the revolving door recidivism on especially drug-related crime in our prisons,” Angle told me. The fact-finding trip to Mexico, to be paid for by a Scientologist, never took place, but the story is supposed to be evidence that Angle is a wild-eyed Tea Party nut.

Angle is not a slick candidate--her TV ads do have a home-video aspect to them--but she seems to be perfectly level-headed. And she's managed to avoid major gaffes during the campaign (though she has faced less scrutiny than Lowden). "I support the Civil Rights Act of 1964," Angle says, showing how easy it is to avoid the controversy that has dragged down Tea Party candidate Rand Paul in Kentucky. "Of course, I do," says Tarkanian of the Act. But Lowden refused to state her position on the Civil Rights Act multiple times, eventually releasing a statement endorsing it, making another controversy for herself where there didn't need to be one.

"All three of these candidates can lose to Harry Reid," says one GOP operative who has interacted with each candidate. "All three of these candidates can beat Harry Reid." The operative sees Lowden's "bartergate" as evidence that she could be a "trainwreck" in the general election, and Angle could eventually have her own Rand Paul moment and implode. The rap against Tarkanian? He's a stiff candidate--the "anti-Rubio" in terms of charisma--not that Harry Reid is exactly thrilling. With Angle and Lowden beating each other up, there's a decent chance Tarkanian, who's been very focused on branding himself as an anti-illegal immigration stalwart, might pull off a win.

It seems that the Nevada GOP, already beleagured by an embattled governor polling in the teens, is doing its best to make what should be a boring Senate race interesting. But in November, voters might just care about stopping Obamacare, bailouts, and constitutional rights for terrorists more than chickens for checkups or spas for prisoners.

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