Harry Reid and Sharron Angle were the boogeymen in the backdrop of this week’s political conventions in Las Vegas, with activists on the liberal and conservative side of the spectrum setting their sights on defeating the other. Reid (D-NV) and Angle (R-NV) each spent less than two hours addressing their respective groups — Netroots Nation and RightOnline — but their electoral showdown was high on the agenda at each.Reid barely mentioned Angle during his remarks to Netroots Saturday, promising instead that he’d keep fighting for progressive agenda items like the public option and immigration reform. (Reid faced little overall pushback even though progressives are frustrated with the progress of his Senate Democrats, but was confronted by Dan Choi over gay rights.) Other Netroots speakers did most of the attacking when it came to Angle, highlighting her positions on Social Security and accusing her of inciting violence by referencing “Second Amendment solutions” to get Reid out of Washington.
The mere mention of Reid and Angle’s name at the other’s side’s convention drew hisses and boos, illustrating how this race has become a flagship for the left and right with just 100 days until Nevadans alone will decide their fates in the midterm elections.
During her speech Saturday a few hours before Reid spoke, Angle described Reid as a, “Let’s make a deal, good ‘ol boy, politics as usual” Democrat. The crowd hooted and cheered. Americans for Prosperity organizers taking the stage to introduce Angle called Reid an “extremist” and showed several unflattering photos of Reid set to the tune of “Jaws.”
Political organizers for each campaign deployed many resources to their appropriate convention, handing out stickers and sporting t-shirts touting Reid and Angle.
Angle told RightOnline that conservative Dick Morris wrote her a letter declaring that, “the fate of the nation rides on you.” Attendees shouted to Angle that they loved her. She smiled and replied, “I love you, too.”
TPM didn’t have enough time on the ground to get a full sense of voter sentiment in Nevada, but talked with as many locals not connected to the conference or working in politics as possible.
What was most surprising is that a theme did emerge from the everyday voters. Each person we talked to made a point to say they don’t like Reid. One person even went so far to call him a “limp noodle.” They had different reasons — too liberal, not liberal enough, too entrenched in Washington, too close with Obama. But most of them they said they probably will vote for Reid, just the same.
“I don’t like him, but I know that Nevada would suffer without him,” one voter told me. Others said they felt he hadn’t done enough to create jobs, but think keeping him in charge will (eventually) help Nevada.