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December 21, 2014

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MEMO FROM RENO:

Angle better be cautious — Reid campaign is listening

Image

Leila Navidi

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.

Key to Sue Lowden’s stunning loss in last week’s Republican U.S. Senate primary was a pesky little video recorded by a campaign worker for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

From the start, Reid’s tracker followed Lowden at every public appearance and captured nearly all of her utterances on camera.

The strategy paid dividends when Lowden suggested bartering with doctors for health care made economic sense. The comment was caught by the tracker and ultimately grew into a national joke.

Democrats didn’t employ a similar strategy with Sharron Angle, who captured the nomination last week. It didn’t appear possible the former assemblywoman could win until just weeks before the election.

Because Lowden and Angle made many joint appearances, the Reid campaign has some footage of Angle from the primary. But you can bet a camera will be at any public appearance she makes from here on hoping to catch a Lowdenesque bomb.

The Reid campaign has shifted into full war-room mode, tracking her interviews for comments they can use against her.

For her part, Angle largely avoided the national media in the days after her win, perhaps hoping to avoid a Rand Paul-like stumble. Shortly after Paul won the Republican nomination in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race, he made controversial remarks on national TV about the Civil Rights Act.

The comments fed the story line that Paul wasn’t ready for prime time. Many think Angle is prone to similar missteps.

Ensign help?

Speaking of Angle interviews, it appears she may have softened her opposition to help from U.S. Sen. John Ensign.

John Ensign

John Ensign

In the wake of Ensign’s admissions that he had an affair with his best friend’s wife and Senate office employee, Angle adamantly stated Ensign would not be joining her on the campaign trail.

“If your spouse cannot trust you, how can your constituents trust you?” she told me in October. “There is an issue here when it comes to the fidelity of the vows that you take.”

In a radio interview on the day of the primary, however, Angle reversed course.

“Do you want Sen. John Ensign’s help?” conservative talk show host Heidi Harris said.

“We need everyone’s help,” Angle said. “That’s what I said. I’m building the coalition of the willing, and we want everyone to be on our side in this.”

A fond farewell to the RGJ

This is my final column for the Reno Gazette-Journal.

It’s a bittersweet parting for me. This is my hometown newspaper, and the place where I cut my teeth as a journalist.

I began working for the Gazette-Journal as an intern 13 years ago. Since then, I’ve had the profound honor of working with some of the best journalists in the state. They’ve been my mentors and my friends.

Without them I wouldn’t have been prepared to take this next step in my career. But it’s time I accept a new opportunity in Nevada journalism. I begin writing for the Las Vegas Sun on Monday and will be making regular appearances on KRNV Channel 4 in Reno.

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