Friday, Nov. 20, 2009 | 2 a.m.
There was this moment during the first forum of the 2010 U.S. Senate race Thursday that encapsulates the Republican Party’s problem and could undermine its unprecedented opportunity to excise the Senate majority leader from the D.C. landscape:
Nine — count ’em — GOP Senate candidates lined up together (No. 10, the recently announced Chuck Flume, was not there) and smiled for a group photo at the event sponsored by the Boulder City Republican Women’s Club. “I will guarantee you that picture says a thousand words about 2010,” moderator Sherm Frederick — the part-time journalist, full-time Harry Reid-hater — declared. (Frederick also added that yours truly “knows more about politics in his little finger than I do,” which is a quote to savor and use as a testimonial far into the future.)
Frederick was right about that picture, though, but perhaps not for the reason he thinks. At a time when the national Republicans are salivating about a Tom Daschle-removal campaign redux in Nevada, the only thing they have to fear is themselves — or, that is, their candidates.
With Rep. Dean Heller taking a pass, and the plunge precipitous to the next candidate tier, the national GOP surely hoped that one B-teamer would have been good enough to take out Reid, whose disapproval rating indicates he is in the political ICU. But as we know, the rich have better access to health care in this country, so the $25 million man may well be able to make a miraculous recovery, especially if the injuries the Republican 10 (and counting) inflict upon themselves are even more severe.
Yes, whoever emerges from that crowded primary will have access to millions in third-party, GOP-linked money. But this surely is not the blueprint for defeating Harry Reid the Republicans drew up.
Countering that, though, and perhaps a harbinger for next year, was that the room at the Railroad Pass was jammed and various folks in the crowd were wearing T-shirts emblazoned with “Dump Reid!! 11-02-2010.” The two exclamation points reflected the intense desire among the faithful to dispose of the Nevada and national GOP’s bête noire. If they can translate that into voters and infrastructure — two areas in which they are now dominated by the Democrats — Reid could be returning to Searchlight.
Some brief musings and observations about the first gathering of Snow White and the dwarves:
Winners: Danny Tarkanian, John Chachas, Sharron Angle. Tarkanian was most focused on Reid, engaged the crowd and he brought his daughter, Lois, to do a joke about the senator with him at the end. He knows how to campaign. Chachas, except for one comment (see below) that showed he might be irony-impaired, gave the most substantive discussion of the financial crisis. If he really spends that $1 million he put in, he could be a factor — assuming the Wall Street resident really moves back. And Angle was a crowd-pleaser with her epigrams (“Red is not Dead” and “Harry Reid, you’re fired”). She will not have much money, but she can fire up the base in a low-turnout primary.
The rest served up red meat, too, but of a blander variety. Lowden worked the crowd early because she had to catch a plane after she spoke. State Sen. Mark Amodei was his usual wry self but did not thrill the partisans. And the others — Chuck Kozak, Mike Wiley, Bill Parson and Robin Titus — were varying degrees of nondescript.
There were a series of memorable quotes:
• Lowden explained why she left her successful TV career: “Very simple. My husband wanted me to. He wanted me to help him grow the family business and be with the children.” I am woman, hear me purr?
• Amodei boasted of the Chamber of Commerce “taking out full-page ads to thank me for helping to kill the 2003 gross receipts tax.” For some reason, Amodei failed to mention that during the same session he co-sponsored what would have been the largest tax increase in history.
• Chachas assailed Reid for having “absolutely no connection” to Nevada. Seemed a strange dig considering Chachas has lived in New York City for 10 years and left Nevada at age 17.
• Ex-talk radio host Wiley actually feigned a Chinese accent (an offensive caricature) to tell a joke. The crowd seemed to enjoy it.
• Angle derided those who tell her they might vote for Reid or anyone else because of friendship. She said no one should put “friendship over principle” and reminded the crowd she “didn’t go to Carson City to make friends.” (She succeeded.)
(I have posted my Live Tweet of the forum on my blog: lasvegassun.com/blogs/ralstons-flash/.)