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July 23, 2014

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Sharron Angle’s valuable campaign donor list keeps her in political game

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Sharron Angle gets a hug from volunteer Dudley Winn after delivering her concession speech at the Republicans’ election-night party early Wednesday at the Venetian.

Election 2010 - Republican Party

Sharron Angle arrives with her husband, Ted, to give her concession speech at the Republicans' election-night party early Wednesday at the Venetian. Launch slideshow »

Sharron Angle’s victory in the GOP Senate primary gave the former state legislator a Sarah Palin-like moment — she went from near obscurity to instant political celebrity. And she parlayed her status as The One Who Could Take Out Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid into a huge campaign war chest, racking up a storied $14 million to spend on her ultimately failed bid to unseat the Republican Party’s top target.

Unlike Palin, Angle didn’t dazzle on the campaign trail or manufacture a media persona. Yet while it’s unlikely we will see Angle undertake a rock star-style speaking tour, that doesn’t mean she won’t maintain a certain appeal nationally. She does, after all, hold a valuable asset — a list of nearly 200,000 small-donor conservatives, which could give her considerable political cachet in the next election cycle.

“Absolutely, I could see a national campaign wanting to access those donors,” Republican strategist Robert Uithoven said. “Not too long ago, raising $14 million in a quarter was big for a presidential campaign. Whether they would want to use her name as they communicate with those donors, I don’t know.”

That appears to be the crux of Angle’s future: Her most valuable commodity may not be her name.

Angle’s future in the political arena has been the subject of much speculation. And rightly so. Her improbable ascent in retrospect might not be so improbable. While not always successful, she has demonstrated an ability to read the shifting winds of conservative politics. First with pornography in Winnemucca and later with rising property taxes in Washoe County, Angle has had a knack for becoming the face of the conservative fight of the moment.

She has been running for office in Nevada since the early 1990s, coming within inches of significant electoral victories but repeatedly falling short.

As with past defeats, few expect her loss in the U.S. Senate race to drive her out of politics.

“Absolutely not,” said state Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Reno, who has long been an Angle ally in conservative fights. “She’s going to stay involved. She’s got the desire to make some changes. When you run for an office like that, you become well-known nationwide and a lot of possibilities open up to you.”

Gustavson said he doesn’t know what she will pursue next. “I can’t read her mind,” he said.

A spokesman for Angle said she wasn’t available for an interview for this story, and he didn’t respond to follow up questions about her plans.

Rather than open up opportunities of a lifetime, however, Angle’s brief time in the national spotlight may have done more damage to her image than good.

In 2008, Palin emerged from her failed campaign on the Republican presidential ticket not as the reason for the loss but the reason the race was suddenly infused with a conservative energy that the campaign of U.S. Sen. John McCain had lacked.

Angle, on the other hand, becomes known as the candidate who let Reid escape when conditions were ideal for Republicans to oust the Democratic leader.

“A lot of Republicans just are furious that they didn’t win Nevada,” said Jennifer Duffy, senior editor of the Cook Political Report. “It was an easy target and they lost. And she’s the reason they didn’t win.”

When Angle stepped into the national spotlight, she also stepped into the ring with Reid, who had his own war chest to spend defining her as the scary, extreme candidate who couldn’t be trusted in office. After Reid’s $20 million effort, voters across the state are left with that impression of Angle.

“I think she’s damaged statewide, but that doesn’t mean she couldn’t win a Republican seat,” Uithoven said.

Many speculate she could challenge a weakened U.S. Sen. John Ensign in 2012, which might be difficult given her new reputation. Or, she could pursue the 2nd Congressional District seat if U.S. Rep. Dean Heller elects to run for higher office. Or, she could make another run for the state Legislature.

But then there’s that list of donors.

The true value of Angle’s donor list remains a bit of a mystery. She could create a political action committee to support her own brand of conservative candidates across the country, similar to Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina. Perhaps she could crown Gun Totin’ Grannies, like Palin has Mama Grizzlies. Or she could simply rent it out to presidential contenders who stumped for her in the closing days of the race.

If she plays it right, Angle’s list could allow her to avoid dealing with her image problems and become a behind-the-scenes money broker of the conservative movement.

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  1. Considering how much of her cash came from out of state, failed extremist Sharron Angle should have seen the writing on the wall.

    Nevada has rejected her again and again and again. We didn't want her in the state Senate, we didn't want her in the House of Representatives and we didn't want her in the Senate.

    Expect her to announce her candidacy for the Presidency in 2012.

  2. I agree with VegasFan. In the murky, weird and strange inexplicable world of politics, those lists had some value. At one time. But now the election is over, what does she have? What does she offer? What would keep those same people contributing money for her and her causes after losing?

    I say that list has evaporated. Those people have moved on. Because they know now that Sharron Angle lost...and she lost badly...in a race that everyone thinks she was assured victory in...well....at least in a Tea Party person's head.

    I guess what I'm saying is that, to compare the Republican base of Sharron Angle's with anyone else's base, from whatever party, is entirely different. This Tea Party crowd is flighty. They change with the wind. I would say those contributors evacuated her and went over to someone who won or who is already elected and in power. Like Rand Paul or Jim DeMint or something.

    Sharron Angle's brand was vaporized by her loss to Senator Reid. And her contributors moved on. They will probably sympathize with her, but if she were to call a rally, none of them would come, nor would they contribute money.

    She's just not in the limelight anymore. She has nothing to offer. And these contributors all have noticed that she has said many things that the voters have rejected. Either because there was no substance to them and/or they were views that were way over the top.

    Sharron Angle could probably work as a political commentator for Fox News or something. She's got the smile. She's got the one sided agenda view. She's got somewhat of a gift of gab.

    But political clout and power? No. Even if the lists she has are still valid, it don't equate to clout and power and influential to any voters.

  3. That list is worthless to Sharron Angle.
    Those people were NOT donating to "Sharron Angle, Senate Candidate"; they were Rabid Righties who "Hate Harry", exhorted to send dough to "Defeat Socialism!"
    What, you thought they were enamored of complete craziness???
    "They", all 200,000 of them, have NO CLUE what they almost wrought.
    The New Era of Internet Fundraising, and the ability to raise endless amounts of Corporate Cash, is an awful, awful POX on our political landscape.
    The abject HORROR of 24-7/365 campaigning via "internet donations" & PAC DOUGH has brought the dawn of Supersized Stupidity to American Politics....
    An endless stream of hot dog crap, made up by Advertising Agencies & "expert" consultants like R&R Partners, direct to your eyes & ears via radio, tv, internet, twitter, email, snail mail, telephone, cell phone, flyers, billboards, yard signs, and door-knockers.
    And, for all that, we STILL have a "less than informed" electorate, because it's 95 percent B.S.; MOST POLITICAL ADVERTISING IS FALSE...intended to dissuade rather than persuade.
    Sell the list, Sharron.
    It's worth it's weight in FOOL'S GOLD to whomever wants to run for Ensign's seat from the right... I'd call the Chicken Lady & Hobo Heller; maybe get a bidding war going...
    but they'll be buying a junk list; with no Harry Reid to run against, those 200,000 "donors" will not be moved to part with their beer money.

  4. I fear that Nevada has launched its own version of the Sarah Palin political celebutard. I wish her well as a Fox "news" talking head.

  5. Point well taken "gmage39" the season of craziness is upon us because of the undisclosed corporate funding to campaigns like Sharron Angle's. Sharron Angle donors where against Harry Reid, not in support of Sharron Angle. Three fourth's (3/4) of the donors mentioned are no longer available to them because Sharron Angle has shown she is extreme on the social issues and out of touch with how to carry out stratgey in a close election. Her past has shown she is not a candidate you can back for long term support from the party base on a state or nation level.

  6. Something to remember is that many of the people on that donor list where not paying to support Ms. Angle, they where paying for the chance to beat Mr. Reid.

    Now that she is not the tool they had at the time to take out Mr. Reid they will have no use or desire to be connected to Ms. Angle.

    Most of her money came from out of state, those people did not and don't care about Nevada, they where playing the "Take Out Reid" game.

    Her list does not have the value some may believe.

  7. Poor Larry & Mary...
    Still licking their wounds.