Nevada GOP Senate candidates feel 'tea party's' power

By Ralph Z. Hallow, The Washington Times

The apparent power of the “tea party” is showing itself again, this time in Nevada where Sharron Angle has battled to the lead in another poll.

According to a Mason-Dixon poll released Sunday, two days before the primary that will determine which Republican will take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this fall, the former state assembly minority whip is the favored choice of 32 percent of Nevada Republicans, eight points ahead of businessman Danny Tarkanian at 24 percent.

Mrs. Angle, a favorite of both the Tea Party Express and the fiscally conservative Club for Growth, also is now nine points ahead of Sue Lowden, a Las Vegas casino executive who is the Republican establishment’s pick for the U.S. Senate nomination. The survey of 500 likely Republican primary voters was taken from June 1 to June 3 and has an error margin of 4.5 percentage points.

The same poll taken in early April had Mrs. Lowden, the one-time state party chairman, leading the pack as the choice of 45 percent of respondents. Mrs. Angle barely registered with a mere 5 percent, far behind Mrs. Lowden and Mr. Tarkanian. But that was before the Tea Party Express got behind Mrs. Angle.

Long-time California Republican consultant Sal Russo founded a political action committee that in turn spawned the Tea Party Express, one of many organizations and groups around the country identify themselves as part of the tea-party movement.

The campaign organizations of the top three contenders have been very sensitive about both the embrace of any tea-party identified group as well as the findings of each new poll, fearing the impact on the respective candidate’s momentum.

Tarkanian pollster James Fisfis has questioned the Mason-Dixon poll’s methodology, and Mrs. Lowden’s campaign and supporters publicly pooh-poohed the reliability and accuracy last week of a Suffolk University poll that also had Mrs. Angle jumping into the lead and Mrs. Lowden sinking to third place.

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