Two dozen years ago, Glenda Haley taught children at a one-room Christian school in a converted classroom at the Word of Light church in Winnemucca.
"We had 'em from, I think, 5 or 6 years old. I remember I taught the pastor's son to read," Haley said. "We had all the grades and the subjects: English, history, science."
And she remembers working with Sharron Angle, the other teacher who ran the school.
"We were church members together," said Haley, who retired and still lives in Winnemucca.
Angle is now the Republican front-runner in the U.S. Senate primary that will be decided on Tuesday, with the winner facing the Democratic incumbent Harry Reid in the fall election.
Her come-from-behind campaign has put Angle's record and résumé under scrutiny, especially by foes who would like to trip up the Tea Party favorite before she crosses the electoral finish line.
In what might be the most unusual campaign charge so far in the hotly contested race, Sue Lowden -- the former GOP front-runner who is fighting to regain the lead -- raised questions last week about whether Angle ever taught at the Christian school, and even whether it existed.
Lowden sent a fundraising missive to supporters titled, "The Missing Winnemucca Years."
In it, she quotes an anonymous supporter and "volunteer investigator" who tries to debunk Angle's claim on her website that she "co-founded, administrated, and taught grades K-12 in a one-room Christian school of 24 students for two years." Angle's Facebook page calls the school the "Word of Light Christian Academy," and her website says she taught there in 1983 and 1984.
In Lowden's e-mail, she says the supporter found: "No such Academy ever existed in Winnemucca. There was no business license for such an academy filed in City or County. There is a 'Word of Light' church in a GI sheet warehouse; but no academy." A GI sheet is galvanized steel.
The supporter said it called the church and was told it didn't have a Christian academy.
The city of Winnemucca had no license record for the academy, the supporter said, and the secretary of state's office didn't have anything filed for a Word of Light Christian Academy either.
"'Angle may say that she was a Sunday school teacher,' our supporter concluded," Lowden says in her e-mail that quotes the volunteer investigator. "Maybe she was. Maybe she wasn't. But she sure as heck was not a 'lead teacher' at a 'Christian academy.'"
Tell that to Sharron Angle and her husband, Ted, who said he helped convert a room in the church into a classroom for the students.
"My wife was the principal of the school and one of the co-teachers," Ted Angle said, adding he used to watch the children during lunch recess. "It was an unpaid job and I served in an unpaid capacity on the board of trustees. We actually graduated one of the kids, but it closed after two years."
According to the Angle campaign, the church didn't need any license to run the school, partly because the law is more lax when it comes to religious schools. But the home school-style program that allowed students to study at their own pace and be tested on the textbook material was accredited, according to Haley, who said she had taught at such a program in Idaho before Nevada.
"Sharron did not imagine that she taught there," said Larry Hart, a spokesman for her campaign who has worked for years in Washington. "I've seen a lot of charges, but I've never seen one like this. It's not like she's making something up about serving in Vietnam. This is not a claim of great fame or fortune, teaching in a church school. I don't think you need to make something like that up."
The Lowden campaign, when asked to defend the charges of rÃ©sumÃ© embellishment, said the church should have filed an exemption with the Board of Education to operate the school, but "no such exemption was filed because the church itself denies any such school/academy ever existed."
It also said Angle shouldn't call herself a "teacher" because parents or volunteers who teach in home school-like settings should be referred to as "tutors."
Pastor Nathaniel Rhoads, the current leader of the Word of Light church, said none of its current members was around in the early 1980s to verify if the school existed back then, so it's unclear who the Lowden tipster talked to who said there was never any such Christian school.
"To be honest, I was born in 1983 and have only been the pastor here since the fall of 2008," Rhoads said in an e-mail. "So I don't think I'd be much help to you, sorry to say."
BOOKMAKING AND POLITICS
Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller showed some flair on his Facebook page for his grandfather's business: bookmaking.
Miller, whose grandfather, also named Ross, was a Chicago bookmaker who came to Las Vegas in 1955 to run the sports book at the Riviera, took his own stab at oddsmaking.
On Thursday he posted the official secretary of state over/under for early voting totals.
Miller set the line for the final two days at 32,500 and added, "I'm hoping for the over but took the under."
He should have bet with his civic-oriented heart, not his odds-minded head. The total number of votes in the final two days of early voting was 36,251.
The good news for Miller is even though he didn't show his grandfather's knack for betting this week, he showed a prowess for politics, raising more campaign cash from January through May than any other state officer.
Campaign finance records show Miller was the top fundraiser among constitutional officers, raising $192,275 in cash contributions. Gov. Jim Gibbons was second with $178,924. Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto raised $166,672, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki raised $129,182, Controller Kim Wallin raised $49,763 and Treasurer Kate Marshall raised $47,733.
The big money-raisers in campaigns for state office were both gubernatorial challengers, Brian Sandoval and Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid.
Sandoval, a former federal judge leading Gibbons in primary polls, raised $901,145 and Reid raised $983,988.
Maybe Ross Miller got the political talent from his dad, former Gov. Bob Miller, the longest serving governor in state history.
Review-Journal writer Benjamin Spillman contributed to this report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3861. Contact reporter Laura Myers at email@example.com or 702-387-2919.