“41-to-Angle”: Reid’s Outsider Opponent

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41 to Angle.

That’s how Nevadan legislators often referred to votes in the state’s 42-member assembly during the years Sharron Angle was an assemblywoman. Angle, who on Tuesday won the state’s Republican senatorial primary and is now challenging Democratic Senator Harry Reid, served in the assembly from 1999 to 2005 and became known for often casting the sole nay vote. She voted ‘no’ so frequently that lawmakers would routinely describe vote tallies as “41-to-Angle,” according to state Senator Michael Schneider, a Democrat who served in the legislature during that period. “That’s what we always called it,” he says.

Schneider recalls one notable example of Angle’s nay-saying. Several years ago, real estate values were skyrocketing in Nevada, and this was driving up property taxes. Angle, expressing populist anger, called for a cap on property taxes. Legislators from both parties agreed that something had to be done. They proposed a measure to cap property taxes. But Angle wanted a ballot proposition that would create a constitutional amendment capping these taxes. She opposed the legislative remedy. The final vote? Forty-one to Angle. “We were giving her what she wanted,” Schneider says. But not quite. Angle yearned for a permanent limit on property taxes. Her fellow legislators—spooked by the infamous Proposition 13 of California—wanted to preserve an element of flexibility. She said no.

Schneider describes Angle as personable, saying “she’d make a good neighbor.” But he considers her a hypocrite. She voted against all taxes, he notes, but always voted for the state budget, even when it included spending increases. She did, he recall, advocate for more funding for Christian charter schools. “She wants to eliminate the Department of Education at the state and federal level,” Schneider remarks. “She wants all regulations to go away. She wants a total free market. Everything should be competitive—except Christian schools.”

Angle’s conservative positions—such as calling for abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, for yanking the United States out of the United Nations, and for privatizing Social Security—have received much attention in recent days. She’s drawn scrutiny for suggesting she doesn’t fancy the legalization of alcohol, for supporting a Scientology-related drug rehab prison program (which included providing saunas and massages to convicts), and for expressing support for the Oath Keepers, a conservative militia-like outfit. There’s no doubt that Nevada Democrats who worked with Angle will do what they can to provide Reid ammo to use against her. But that’s not such a hard task. Angle has not been shy about expressing and voting her opinions. She’s been an outsider eagerly voicing her heartfelt but extreme stances for years. Expect Reid to use almost all of his millions in campaign cash to ensure every Nevada voter knows that by Election Day.

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