Conventional wisdom in Washington, DC is that with the news of Christine O'Donnell's victory in the Republican primary in Delaware that things are looking up for Sharron Angle, the Republican candidate vying to remove four-term Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from his perch in Washington. Reid is about as disliked in Nevada as any politician in the state's history. In the rural areas of the state, in particular, signs abound reading "Elect Anyone Butt Harry Reid". But the same independent streak that helped propel Reid to office and has grown markedly since then may keep him in Washington and prevent Angle from winning. Those who dispense conventional wisdom in Washington just don't understand that Nevadans aren't happy with their current choices for representation in the Senate.
Nevada is now 21% registered "Independent" or "No Affiliation." Registered Democrats number approximately 43% of the electorate and Republicans account for about 37%. All of those figures have shifted a bit since the last general election given Nevada is now shrinking rather than growing at its once 10% a month growth rate.
Sadly, Harry Reid and his political team know these figures county by county from the least populated (Esmeralda County's 300 votes) to his home county of Clark where the money flows and Harry likes to hob-knob with the Democratic party elite. Reid benefits from the fact that Nevada is one of a very few states where "None of the Above" is one of the ballot choices. Reid is well aware that he will never change the minds of conservative Democrats or Tea Party Independents and actually get their vote; those who dislike Reid dislike him intensely. So Reid has embarked on a very shrewd tactical play: define Sharron Angle as just "extreme" enough to move Independent voters into the "None of the Above" column. Reid doesn't expect to win their support - indeed those votes are out of his reach. Reid's strategy is to convince people Angle shouldn't get their vote, either. Angle should worry. Nevada has a history of this type of independent behavior.
In 2004, a self-proclaimed "socially conservative" Republican, Richard Ziser, lost to Reid 65% to 35%. The bad news for Angle is that in 8 of 17 Nevada counties, the "None of the Above" box got more votes than the Republican that year. And this is precisely what Reid is playing for this November. Paint Sharron Angle as enough of a question that "...even if you hate me, don't vote for her..." The Republican Party in Nevada and in Washington, DC must counter-attack and inform Nevada voters that a vote for "None of the Above" is, by simple math, a vote for Reid.
While Angle has put forth controversial stances, she is better than Reid who personifies big government. Angle will work to reduce the size of government and the debt-financing to which Washington is addicted. After 24 years of watching Reid spend our nation into poverty, Nevadans needs to fire him.
Reid has been a failure far beyond Nevada but in the Silver State, his legacy is the highest reported unemployment rate approaching 15% and a "U6" unemployment figure in excess of 20%. There are more under-employed and jobless Americans in Reid's home state and home county than anywhere in America. Business formation has slowed to a trickle in Nevada, as small- and medium-sized companies begin to struggle with the questions of how they will afford the mandated Obama-care requirements, which Harry Reid led through Congress. Reid has also been remarkably effective at killing job-creating projects, including Yucca Mountain's nuclear materials repository, coal fired power plants in White Pine County, and a long list of other projects disliked by Reid's ultra-left progressive base.
Undecided voters or Nevadans that dislike both candidates must come to grips with their choice: either Reid or Angle will be the next U.S. Senator from Nevada and voting "None of the Above" may make you feel better but will mathematically insure Reid wins.
So I pose this question to my fellow Nevadans: even if you think Angle doesn't represent your views on some issues, would you rather have six years of the possibility that Sharron Angle will stay true to her colors of small government or six more years of Harry Reid's vision of an America run from Washington? Harry is hoping those of you who don't like him pick "None of the Above".
John Chachas is a former investment banker at Lazard who ran as a Republican in the Nevada U.S. Senate primary on June 8th.