We’re not even in 2016, yet, and this election cycle is already one for the books. From the comically crowded GOP field to Vice President Joe Biden’s blink-and-you-missed-it candidacy, there’s been no shortage of things to report and memes generating laughs online.
It’s been almost enough to make politics in Nevada look tame. Enter: Sharron Angle.
With so much going on in politics–including a looming government shut-down and Nevada once again first in foreclosures–it’d be easy to forget how much the former Assemblywoman shook the establishment with a near-miss challenge to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s reelection in 2010. Remember, she led in the polls by three points on Election Day and Reid won with less than a six-point margin.
Angle–who raised an impressive $30 million to Reid’s $25.9 million, according to OpenSecrets.org–famously told Reid to “man up” in a debate, a shot heard ‘round the conservative sphere and one that was highlighted in a fundraising letter distributed by fellow Republicans, Assemblyman Brent Jones and state Sen. Don Gustavson, earlier this month. As first reported by Jon Ralston on Oct. 20, the letter encourages Angle supporters to draft her to run for the U.S. Senate by contributing to a war chest. The letter includes a P.S. by Angle herself saying, “We can do this.”
Whether Angle could raise enough money to beat U.S. Representative Joe Heck in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate is questionable, but as Ralston wrote on his Ralston Reports blog on Oct. 21, “she can make him spend a lot before she loses.” Perhaps as a sign of the fear an Angle candidacy inspires in the other side, Democratic Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto released a fundraising appeal of her own within hours, citing Angle’s letter.
Here are five things to know about Angle, a wild card cut from the same cloth as Donald Trump:
- Angle took a lot of hits in her 2010 campaign for comments she made during a KNPR interview in which she praised her grandfather, who refused to take Social Security benefits because he likened it to welfare. She campaigned that middle-aged people should be able to opt out of paying into Social Security, a program she believes should be phased out, while Angle herself was living off of her husband’s federal pension.
- The ultra-conservative Republican also made waves in 2010 for saying, on an episode of Face to Face with Ralston, that those who take unemployment benefits are “spoiled.” The comment drew a lot of criticism for appearing tone-deaf as Nevada was still on its heels as the worst-hit state following the economic collapse, leading the nation in unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies.
- Angle takes a hardline against abortion, including in cases of rape or incest. She took heat for an interview with radio host Bill Manders, in which she said that pregnancy that resulted from such traumatic events is “God’s plan” and that women should “make lemonade from lemons.”
- Before Trump’s comments that Mexican immigrants are “drug dealers and rapists,” Angle told a group of mostly Hispanic students at Rancho High School that some of them “look a little more Asian” than Latino while deflecting their questions about a series of inflammatory ads that depicted immigrants as law-breaking and vaguely threatening people of Hispanic descent.
- Angle first courted public controversy in 1992 when she protested black jerseys worn by the local high school team, because black is the color of evil. As Crooks and Liars reported, the Angle-led contingent argued, “that black as a color was thoroughly evil, invoking the supernatural and especially the devil.”
In a campaign season in which House Republicans have failed (multiple times) to elect a new leader and have called former conservative poster boy Representative Paul Ryan “too far left” to be voted as the new Speaker of the House, and a presidential field in which Trump has displayed Ronald Reagan-like Teflon resiliency, there’s hardly anything more that could shock the voting public–except maybe Angle entering the fray.