Much of Nevada's U.S. Senate race -- in part because the campaign's been largely driven by Sen. Harry Reid's massive advertising budget -- has focused on whether Republican challenger Sharron Angle is "too extreme."
Reporter Ed Vogel's summary in Tuesday's Review-Journal reveals the Reno assemblywoman's voting record during her eight years in the state Legislature was not uniformly anti-tax and anti-government growth. But so frequently and so uncompromisingly did she hold to that philosophy that reporters covering the 42-member Assembly -- reporters whose political leanings are rarely conservative, mind you -- came to refer to many a tax-and-spend measure as having passed "41 to Angle."
In 1999, Ms. Angle was the only Assembly member to vote against $500,000 study on the need for a four-year state college in Henderson -- a college whose sponsors said it would be funded entirely with private money. That didn't work out quite as promised, did it?
Over eight years Ms. Angle opposed new mining claim taxes, new construction fees, new court filing fees. On 79 occasions she was one of only two Assembly members to oppose a bill imposing a new government tax or mandate; on 39 occasions she stood absolutely alone in opposing such initiatives.
Needless to say, fellow legislators and lobbyists who were paid to twist arms and get such measures enacted consistently rated her a bad legislator -- sometimes "the worst."
But Jerry Stacy, Angle's longtime spokesman, replies Ms. Angle never wanted to "go along to get along." Yes, legislative leaders and committee chairs who couldn't win Ms. Angle's support for their favorite spending measures retaliated by refusing to advance her own proposals. But, "Because of the people who go along to get along, we got tax increases shoved down our throats. She stood by her principles. Her constituents liked her," Ms. Stacy says
Do Nevadans really want a senator who'll look over her shoulder to see if she can count 50 other votes before cautiously rising to her feet to shout "Stop spending; stop taxing; stop ensnaring a once vigorous free economy in a snarl of federal red tape"?
Sharron Angle's voting record during eight years in the Nevada Assembly means that with Sharron Angle Nevadans would know what they're getting. They wouldn't have to wonder whether lobbyists holding out the blandishments of wealth and prestige are likely to win her over.
"She very much voted her conscience," says former Assembly Minority Leader Lynn Hettrick. "It cost her."
Did it? Or is that something that most Nevadans might applaud in a politician?