The Campaign Spot

What Should Sharron Angle Do?

A few readers disagree with my glum assessment of Sharron Angle’s circumstances, but fewer than I expected. As I noted, Harry Reid still has lousy job-approval numbers. Pretty terrible ones, in fact, and it appears Obama is going to be an albatross in this state. And sure, Reid is spending a ton on negative ads — except he spent a ton in preceding months with no effect on the polls whatsoever.

Three thoughts on what Angle ought to do . . .

Appeal to Independents: Angle is one of the most conservative lawmakers in the state, and while Nevada is souring on Obama and has plenty of Tea Party activity, it is not a classic red state. It’s a more purple one, and so Angle needs to offer something to the voters who are sour on both Reid and traditional Republicans.

One of the issues I thought might give her trouble was her past enthusiasm for that drug-treatment program with ties to Scientology. But most people don’t give a moment’s thought to how authorities can help imprisoned criminals overcome their additions. You don’t seek out effective prison drug-treatment programs unless you have a deep vein of compassion for the condemned and a desire to help those who have fallen about as far down as they can get. Angle could/should “play against type” and talk, in depth, about what drove her to want to help those whom society has dismissed as hopeless, and provide a serious second chance for those who have made bad decisions with terrible consequences for their lives and loved ones.

I’m picking this as an example. Angle would do well to demonstrate some area where her past stands and votes contradict the right-wing caricature of her that Reid is trying to paint.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: This anecdote made me just lay my head on the desk for a while:

A local actress named Dee Drenta asked Angle what she would do to help people find work. But instead of seizing what seemed like an easy chance to explain her jobs plan, the candidate revealed that she didn’t have one.

“It really comes from the statehouse to incentivize that kind of stuff in our state,” Angle said. “Truly, the lieutenant governor, Brian Krolicki, you should have this conversation with him. That’s his job, to make sure that we get business into this state. My job is to create the climate so that everybody wants to come.”

The woman gave her a puzzled look. “I’m sure you’re probably planning on working with these people to do these things,” Drenta said, hopefully. “Because it’s the end result that matters, whether it’s specifically in the job description or not.”

Unemployment in Nevada is 14.2 percent. Angle is going to get variations of this question over and over again between now and November, so she had better have a kick-butt answer to that question. I don’t care if she prefers a payroll-tax suspension, deferring or eliminating capital-gains taxes on new start-ups, domestic oil and natural-gas drilling, or getting some of these stalled trade deals passed, but she must have something to tout as a jobs-creating idea.

Jujitsu: One problem with Angle is that, according to Rasmussen, Nevadans think she’s extreme. What’s the opposite of extreme? Mush, evasiveness, slipperiness, opacity. One big reason Reid is in trouble is that the agenda he’s working to enact in Washington is the opposite of what Nevadans want. I suspect Nevadans don’t think Angle will ever lie to them, nor will they ever doubt where she stands on anything. She may have some opportunity for a variation of the Kerry vs. Bush dynamic, contrasting a flip-flopper or lawmaker who misleads his constituents on his true views and agenda with a lawmaker who is always clear and never equivocates, and whose values are indisputable.

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