Wednesday, June 9, 2010
As you probably saw, I Tweeted extensively from the GOP election night party. That lady in the teal jacket at the center is the 5-foot-ish dynamo -- she wouldn't tell me her height when I asked a couple weeks ago -- who is about to go up against Sen. Harry Reid. Yes, her ideas are largely not mainstream, but she is certainly a poised and charismatic figure, and I think Reid's got his work cut out for him any which way.
One reason I think that is because negative campaigning this year in Nevada seems to have really failed spectacularly. If Reid attacks this cute little former schoolteacher too hard and too fast, I suspect voters will tune out and view it as part of what they hate about D.C. politics. So far, though, I've already received three emails from Democratic quarters cataloging all of Angle's problems, and the group Progess Now Nevada has a "Sharrontology" Twitter site and TheWrongAngle.Com. (They must've been pretty cocky; nobody registered SuicidalSue.Com.)
But mudslinging took a hit this year, and nowhere was that more obvious than consultant Gary Gray's unceasing, repetitive and endless drilling of Assemblyman Mark Manendo on behalf of Gray's client, Assemblywoman and Grandmother Kathy McClain in a race for State Senate. We're talking dozens of mailers, twice-daily automated phone messages, the works. It was vicious -- and included the gambit of gaybaiting just for the heck of it that we exposed here -- but clearly, it didn't work in any measurable way and probably contributed to Manendo crushing McClain 57-43. It's hard to explain in any other light; the two were both popular in their own assembly districts and had identical voting records. The difference, clearly, was in the campaigns. Manendo did attack McClain, too, but he didn't get into her family life and he didn't send out nearly the volume of material McClain did.
This guy, by the way...
...is Manendo's GOP opponent. Eeeek! Something tells me that "Tony" is going to have a tough time getting those sexual harassment charges to stick to Manendo if Grandmother couldn't. (It's also a heavy Democratic district, so there's likely not to be much of a race. But still...Eeeek!)
A few other little results tidbits:
* Yes-That's-His-Name Ty Cobb, an assemblyman who took over the Sharron Angle mantle of being the lone dissent on every last thing, was a true-red tea partier, too. He lost to baby-faced former news anchor and ex-Gov. Jim Gibbons spokesman Ben Kieckhefer (right) in a Republican primary for State Senate in the Reno area. For all the talk of the liberal media elite, have you noticed that most journalists who are successful in politics are Republicans? (Kieckhefer, Sue Lowden and Sarah Palin among them.)
* While Sharron Angle won big, so far as I can tell the only person who foretold that she'd crack 40 percent was UNR political scientist Eric Herzik in my AOL News piece yesterday. I guess that answers the question of the headline of this Steve Sebelius May 2008 blog post.
* Is John Chachas back in New York yet? Who? Oh, never mind.
* Those of you outside Nevada may not have heard about this one, but GOP primary voters bounced not just our incumbent governor but also -- get this -- an incumbent state senator who publicly defended and sort of acted as bagman for a close friend who raped his lover's 16-year-old sister.
The Republican Party party at the Orleans was far more upbeat than the last time I visited with this crowd on an Election Night, which would have been at the Palazzo sportsbook (now Lagasse's Stadium) in November 2008. Then they were singing dirges in the dark, this time they had a jazz band...
and sold anti-Harry Reid books and wacky patriotic ties for $20:
My favorite part was the raffle. I'd never seen this before at one of these things and nor had any of the political journalists I asked. See?
The prizes included Ronald Reagan commemorative silver dollars, copies of "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand and that Jerry Tarkanian-signed basketball.
Speaking of Tarks, Danny Tarkanian (0-3) lost his third straight election, coming in third in the Senate race. I found it a little weird that the jazz band started playing "Smooth Operator" by Sade when Little Tark hopped on stage to concede and endorse Angle. Not with Tark were his little kids, evidently no longer needed to draw votes as they were when he forced his wife and weeks-old newborn onto at least one statewide road trip in January. (I half-jokingly Tweeted that Little Tark will go for Las Vegas mayor next year. You really never know.)
I asked my Tweeps to predict what they'd play when Angle arrived and the responses included Crazy, Ladies Night, Chicken Dance, I'm A Little Teapot, Freebird, The Bitch Is Back and Crazy Bitch. They actually didn't play anything before she arrived, but afterwards they went into this not-subtle gambit for party unity: Let's Stay Together by Al Green. Hopeful!
Here's your obligatory media set-up shot:
You know what media was, as usual, MIA for this kind of thing? KNPR. Our World of News and Information did not broadcast anything live other than top-of-the-hour news updates, a shameful dereliction. I'm a huge, huge supporter of Nevada Public Radio, as you all know, but I cannot comprehend h0w they don't feel obliged given all the pledge-drive blather about always being there for its listeners to provide live election night coverage that would include feeds of speeches, interviews with candidates and punditry. There is nothing more important in Nevada news at the moment than this U.S. Senate race; the nation is watching. As I moved from one election location to the next, I was actually angry about their absence.
Instead, if you wanted some election news while driving last night, you had to turn to right-wing radio whackadoodles like Heidi Harris:
Are radio remotes really that expensive? Seriously? Doesn't KNPR want to be a part of the conversation while it's developing? It was completely awkward at 8 p.m. when results were already available to have them re-running that morning's State of Nevada discussion about what might happen. This is not the first time KNPR has failed this way; do they see themselves as an important news operation or not?
Anyhow, I close with this:
I can see the ad now: Narcoleptic Republican Children With Dreadlocks For Angle!