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Sharron Angle vows to ‘take back’ Harry Reid’s Senate seat

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Leila Navidi

Sharron Angle waits to take the stage Tuesday night at the Orleans after winning the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Updated Tuesday, June 8, 2010 | 11:57 p.m.

Angle Wins US Senate GOP Primary

Sharron Angle wins the U.S. Senate Republican primary.

Primary results

Republican 2010 Primary Victory Unity Celebration

Sharron Angle celebrates her victory in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate during the Primary 2010 Victory Unity Celebration with the Clark County Republican Party at the Orleans Hotel Tuesday, June 8, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Primary Night - Sue Lowden

Sue Lowden watches election results come in at a primary election party for the Senate candidate Tuesday, June 8, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Lowden Falls in Republican Primary

With just 26.1% of the vote, Sue Lowden falls to Sharron Angle in Tuesday's Republican Primary.

Tarkanian Concedes in Senate Primary

Danny Tarkanian, businessman and son of legendary UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, was defeated in the U.S. Senate Republican primary by Sharron Angle. With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Angle had 40 percent of the vote; Sue Lowden had 26.2 percent and Tarkanian had 23.2 percent. Tarkanian gave a brief concession speech at the Orleans Hotel and Casino, saying he was disappointed to lose but that he has offered his support to Angle in whatever way her campaign wants.

Sharron Angle ended her primary election campaign surge Tuesday hoping to carry that same momentum into the general election. Her goal: take down Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“We’ve completed the first step to take back our U.S. Senate seat,” Angle told a loud group of supporters at the Clark County Republican victory party just after 10 p.m.

“We’re going to dump Harry Reid on Nov. 2,” she promised the crowd at the Orleans, which replied by chanting “Dump Harry Reid.”

With all precincts reporting, Angle had 40 percent of the vote; Sue Lowden had 26.1 percent and Danny Tarkanian had 23.3 percent.

The remainder of the vote was divided among the other nine candidates.

Angle gave a 10-minute speech, touching on policy issues and challenging Reid to a debate.

“We’re ready to debate,” she said. “Let’s talk about the issues.”

The race has seen dramatic shifts during the past three months. Lowden, a wealthy casino owner and former chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Party, opened an early double-digit lead, according to polls, but had seen it erode in the wake of several gaffes and withering attacks from allies of Angle and the Reid campaign.

Several recent polls have shown Angle, who languished in the single and low double digits early on, leading the race. A former assemblywoman, Angle has seen her popularity rise as the Washington-based Tea Party Express and other conservative groups endorsed her candidacy. Some of those groups have run TV ads attacking Lowden.

“The Tea Party Express played an integral role in this victory tonight,” Angle said in her victory speech. “This is an important event not just for Nevada, but for the nation.”

Tarkanian, a businessman and son of legendary UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, had attempted to stay above the fray, but still came in third.

He gave a brief concession speech prior to Angle’s arrival at the event, saying he was disappointed in his loss.

"I was hoping to win this race and was very confident that we would. I'm disappointed and sad for the people who helped me so much. I feel I let them down."

But the party stands united behind Angle, Tarkanian said.

"We've got a real good candidate and she's going to do great," he said.

Tarkanian said he talked to Angle and offered his support in whatever way her campaign wanted.

“We’ve heard so much how the Clark County Republican Party is divisive, and they’re not united. Look at everybody here, you’re all united now, we have somebody to get behind,” he said.

Yet, after Tarkanian spoke and left the room, most of his supporters followed, leaving a much smaller, but louder, crowd to welcome the victorious Angle.

Other Republicans also claimed the party was ready to stand united in the general election battle, and the mood throughout the night was a celebratory one, even before the election results were clear.

"Tonight begins our journey toward victory in November," state Sen. Barbara Cegavske, who didn't have a race on Tuesday, said to the group early in the evening.

"Across town there is a group already plotting against us," she said. "They will work hard, they will even work smart, but in the end, if we all work together, and pull together, if we put our common goals ahead of our minor differences, we will prevail."

After suffering major losses in the 2008 elections, Republicans are ready to take back positions in Carson City and Washington, D.C., party leaders said.

"This cannot be good news for those folks on the other side of town," Amodei said of Democrats, referring to Republican enthusiasm.

Joe Heck addressed the crowd to claim victory in his bid to defeat Rep. Dina Titus in November.

"Tonight is about sending a message to Washington, D.C." he said to chants of his name. "We will redouble our efforts against the political progressive agenda ... We will bring a new direction to Washington, D.C."

Once the front-runner, Lowden falls

At the View 215, a banquet hall on West Russell Road, about 75 Lowden supporters gathered to wait for the results.

The third-floor balconies offered a view of the Las Vegas Strip, but all eyes were on the televisions inside, as the latest returns from the county recorder and secretary of state's websites flashed on the screens.

Supporters munched on pineapple Teriyaki meatballs and chicken satay skewers, as well as antipasta and fresh fruit.

Shortly before 9 p.m. Lowden appeared from a back area where she had been sequestered, and made a quick circle of the room, hugging supporters and posing for pictures. Wearing a dark purple sleeveless dress with black pumps, Lowden paused by the stage as the main TV screen was turned to Fox News. A Fox commentator began deconstructing the Nevada Senate race, pointing out that Lowden had at one time been the presumptive nominee. Lowden smiled, her hands clasped in front of her.

Flanked by her husband and extended family, Lowden said: "Tonight, I have no regrets."

Moments before taking the stage for her concession speech, Lowden called to congratulate Sharron Angle.

"I wished her well and I meant it," Lowden said.

Lowden said the Republican voters had decided who they wanted on the ballot in November "and I respect their decision."

Thanking her family for their love and support (and calling her husband "the wind beneath my wings"), Lowden said the campaign had been an "experience of an lifetime," particularly the many hours and miles spent traveling "this beautifully diverse" state and talking with Nevadans about business, politics and "simple, everyday life."

People are "eager for a federal government that is leaner, less expensive, more efficient and more effective ... Right now, Washington is broken," Lowden said. "Republicans know it, Democrats know it, independents and Libertarians know it."

"One person," said Lowden, referring to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, "Seems not to know it. You know voters will have a say on him in November."

Looking ahead, Lowden said she would be returning to private life.

"This chapter closes tonight, and tomorrow begins another," Lowden said, to loud applause. "I look forward to seeing what's next in this pilgrimage called life."

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