While there has been a lot of national focus on the GOP women running in today’s California primaries ( Carly Fiorina for Senate, Meg Whitman for governor), the two women running for the Republican nomination for senator in Nevada-four-term assemblywoman Sharron Angle and casino executive (and former Miss New Jersey ) Sue Lowden-deserve a second look. As Slate ‘s John Dickerson noted in his primary preview , the Tea Party-endorsed Angle leads the pack in the most recent poll with 32 percent of the vote; Lowden has 24 percent. A third challenger-Danny Tarkanian-has 23 percent. Angle’s victory could show just how persuasive an endorsement from the Tea Party is in this moment.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal , in early April, Lowden-the Republican establishment pick and a former CEO-was the clear frontrunner. But that was before the Tea Party Express endorsed Angle and paid for campaign ads touting Angle’s conservative bona fides. It was also before Lowden made some unfortunate remarks about health care in front of a rural audience, saying that they could pay doctors with chickens. Lowden has tried to make up some ground by running negative ads about Angle-most notably this bonkers ad about a drug treatment program that Angle supported as an assemblywoman in 2003 that included saunas and massages :
The ad says that Angle’s plan was “developed by the Church of Scientology.” ( The Las Vegas Sun notes that Lowden has since scrubbed her Web site of her association with Jenna Elfman, the celebrity scientologist .)
Whatever Angle’s connection with the controversial church, it hasn’t seemed to matter to the Tea Partiers-according to the Review-Journal , they are overwhelmingly voting for Angle. Though Lowden is arguing that she would fare much better in a race against sitting Senator Harry Reid, because she is less conservative than Angle, Tarkanian actually fared the best against Reid in a Review-Journal poll. That insane attack ad seems to have only hurt Lowden.