Huffpost Politics

Top Nevada Republican Endorses Harry Reid, Slams Sharron Angle

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Nevada State Sen. Bill Raggio, who is considered to be one of the most influential Republican lawmakers in the Silver State, endorsed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in his reelection fight against GOP challenger Sharron Angle on Thursday.

Raggio has served in the Nevada state legislature since 1972, and told "Face-to-Face" host Jon Ralston this week that never in that long career had he endorsed a Democrat. But given the caliber of his own party's nominee, he said in a statement Thursday, that time has come.

"What is difficult to overlook is her record of being totally ineffective as a four-term assemblywomen, her inability or unwillingness to work with others, even within her own party, and her extreme positions on issues such as Medicare, social security, education, veterans affairs and many others," Raggio said of Angle.

Raggio, of course, has another reason to dislike Angle, who made a failed attempt to unseat him in 2008. He also challenged his Republican colleagues who have lined up behind Angle's campaign.

"Some supporters tell me we need to support her because we need her vote in the U.S. Senate as a Republican and she 'can't do much harm as a junior back bencher,'" said Raggio. "Since when should this be the criteria on how we select and vote for a U.S. Senator to represent our State?"

He added, "I am a lifelong Republican and unlike Ms. Angle, I have never changed parties. I have always supported Jeffersonian principles of free enterprise, low taxes, limited government and fiscal responsibility. These were the same principles endorsed by every one of our Republican presidents, since the days of Lincoln, and including President Reagan, whom I knew personally."

To put things in perspective, Raggio also made it clear that he was less than thrilled to throw his weight behind Reid's campaign.

"Having said this, I am not pleased or supportive of many of the issues which Senator Reid has supported and I have told him so," he said. "I believe he understands that he must vote more strongly to represent the views of his Nevada constituency in the future rather than a liberal agenda which many feel drifts toward Socialism in America. With that caveat, I will reluctantly vote for Senator Reid's re-election."

The four-term Democrat responded to news of the endorsement in a statement, saying, "I am honored to have the support of Senator Bill Raggio, a man I deeply respect not only for his commitment to public service, but his love for this state..."

While Raggio's endorsement announcement comes with Nevada's midterm election just weeks away, the Republican legislator began to air his feelings on the race just one day after Angle's win in the state's primary campaign.

"I would say there are a lot of Republicans who will find it difficult to support Sharron Angle," he told The New York Times. "Abolishing the Department of Education, phasing out Social Security, those are pretty extreme positions. I think any incumbent is vulnerable, but you have to have somebody that is also acceptable if you're going to win."

At the Las Vegas Sun, Ralston relays a statement put out by Angle's camp on news of Raggio's decision to support Reid.

"It's refreshing to have the light shed on those who are finally willing to expose who they really are in a desperate attempt to help keep the churn turning for liberal big-government beliefs. We know that many good ol' boy career politicians do not believe in Republican principles, but instead are more apt to line themselves closer with the liberal policies promoted by Senator Harry Reid...

But, Raggio is by no means the only Nevada Republican to have come out and express concern over Angle's electability.

Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, who -- like Raggio -- endorsed defeated candidate Sue Lowden in the state's GOP primary race, has criticized Angle as an "ultra right-winger." If she were to win, he said, "Our state will suffer and we would never get anything done."

The latest numbers out on Nevada's Senate race show the highly contentious Reid-Angle matchup to be deadlocked.

Via Las Vegas-based station KVVU comes full text of the statement issued by Raggio on his endorsement decision:

Statement from Senator Bill Raggio regarding the Reid/Angle U.S. Senate Race

"I was a strong supporter of Sue Lowden in the Republican primary for U. S. Senate. Unfortunately she lost due largely to efforts by the National Tea Party Express and similar national political groups.

"Following the primary, I indicated that I would keep my powder dry and evaluate the two candidates, Senator Reid and Sharron Angle, as the campaign unfolded.

"Only one of these candidates has sought my endorsement, Senator Harry Reid. I haven't heard from Sharron Angle or talked with her since long before she decided to run against me for State Senate two years ago. After losing to me in a primary, during which she ran a very negative campaign and distorted my record, referred to me as a liar and a RINO, I never heard one word from her, or a concession, or an offer of support. Instead, she lent aid and comfort to an effort to recall me as State Senator.

"Those are personal issues which I was willing to put behind me.

"What is difficult to overlook is her record of being totally ineffective as a four-term assemblywomen, er inability or unwillingness to work with others, even within her own party, and her extreme positions on issues such as Medicare, social security, education, veterans affairs and many others.

"Some supporters tell me we need to support her because we need her vote in the U.S. Senate as a Republican and she 'can't do much harm as a junior back bencher'! Since when should this be the criteria on how we select and vote for a U.S. Senator to represent our State?, I ask.

"I am a lifelong Republican and unlike Ms. Angle, I have never changed parties. I have always supported Jeffersonian principles of free enterprise, low taxes, limited government and fiscal responsibility. These were the same principles endorsed by every one of our Republican presidents, since the days of Lincoln, and including President Reagan, whom I knew personally, and who laid down the Republican 11th Commandment: Don't speak ill of other Republicans. In other words, quit calling dedicated people like former Governor Guinn and many other good Republicans RINO's and other derogatory terms.

"Other than my inability to accept her extreme and often even radical ideas and positions, if there was any concern about my natural preference to endorse a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, it was removed altogether when Angle, in a secretly taped conversation, expressed her true feelings by slamming and disavowing the Republican Party saying it had 'lost its standards and principles.'

"For all these reasons, I am unable to support Sharron Angle. We need someone in the U.S. Senate who can be effective, work with others, and best represent the interests of our State.

"Having said this, I am not pleased or supportive of many of the issues which Senator Reid has supported and I have told him so. I believe he understands that he must vote more strongly to represent the views of his Nevada constituency in the future rather than a liberal agenda which many feel drifts toward Socialism in America. With that caveat, I will reluctantly vote for Senator Reid's re-election.

"As a further note, I oppose almost all of the Obama agenda. The next Congress will need to make changes, certainly in the health care bill and with bailouts which undermine the concept of free enterprise. Barak Obama is not President because of the way I, and others like me, voted. I voted for Senator McCain, who lost in large part because ultra conservative voices bashed both him and President George W. Bush for over a year and then in the last few weeks, asked us to vote for McCain!

"I truly believe most Nevadans, and for that matter, most Americans, are disgusted with negative campaigning and would like to see civility restored to the political process, with both parties working together and seeking responsible compromises in difficult and complex issues."

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