A new Angle in U.S. Senate race

For two months, Nevada’s U.S. Senate campaign has been all about Sharron Angle.

See Sharron stumble and bumble. See Sharron run from reporters. See what silly Sharron says next.

She had neither the money nor the moxie to fight back as Harry Reid exposed her weaknesses with the ruthlessness you’d expect from a four-term incumbent.

All of a sudden, the race was about Second Amendment remedies and Social Security. In a harshly anti-incumbent cycle, the unpopular Reid was turning his re-election bid into a vote on his Tea Party challenger’s fitness for office.

Last week, Angle finally showed signs that she’s capable of recasting the race into what it’s always been: a referendum on Reid and the Democratic Party’s disastrous economic policies.

Her TV ads take the fight back to Reid. And she used a Monday speech to the Nevada Republican Men’s Club to turn his campaign’s biggest selling point against him.

“In spite of what people are saying about this powerful man, Harry Reid, he has not used his power for our benefit,” said Angle, armed with new advisers and a new media team.

“It’s time to tell Harry Reid to stop doing more. We can’t afford it.”

Bingo.

Reid, as Senate majority leader, is President Obama’s go-to guy to get the Democrats’ agenda passed. And Reid is eager to deliver even though a majority of Nevadans don’t support the Democrats’ legislative goals, and even though this leftist credo runs counter to everything Nevada needs to recover from this painful recession.

November’s election is about the economy, and whether Nevada voters will embrace an ideology that seeks to extract ever-greater sums of money from the listless private sector or send a message to the rest of the country that the president and Congress need to reverse course — and that it might be safe for companies to start hiring again.

Nevada has the nation’s highest unemployment rate at 14.2 percent, a figure that has been climbing steadily for 53 straight months — a stretch that coincides with Reid’s tenure as majority leader. Nevada has suffered the nation’s worst housing collapse.

One thing will start healing both: jobs.

But Nevada has a tourist-driven economy. Jobs won’t be created in large numbers here until there’s job creation in other states. When larger numbers of Americans have jobs that aren’t at risk of disappearing overnight, and once they have some disposable income to spend, they’ll become tourists again.

Reid, however, is pushing for higher taxes, more regulation and increased government control of the economy. Through his health care monstrosity, he has made sure health care will become even more expensive and that taxes will increase to help pay the bigger bills. Through the climate-change legislation he wants passed, he’s pushing for higher energy costs and the elimination of jobs tied to fossil fuels.

Worst of all, he’s making no secret of his desire to significantly raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, who already pay a disproportionate share of our taxes.

Look up and down the Las Vegas Strip. The newest properties — especially CityCenter, which Reid brags to have saved from a pre-opening bankruptcy — were built for upscale travelers. When the wealthy travel to Las Vegas, they create jobs in gourmet restaurants, nightclubs, spas and high-end retail stores — jobs that increase demand for local housing. Back home, these affluent travelers create more jobs — and more potential Las Vegas visitors — by spending money in their local businesses, to say nothing of their investments.

Las Vegas desperately needs for these people to be able to keep and spend their money.

But Reid insists on advancing a confiscatory agenda that wipes out job-creating wealth. How, exactly, does sticking it to the rich and reducing this country’s standard of living help fill hotel rooms at Bellagio, The Venetian and Wynn Las Vegas?

Reid counters this devastating argument by boasting about creating subsidized “green” jobs, bailing out automakers and saving government jobs through the stimulus boondoggle. All of these debt-exploding initiatives, however, merely transferred jobs to governments and favored industries.

Reid’s entire case for re-election centers on how valuable he’ll be to Nevada once his legislative accomplishments leave us in permanent recession. As majority leader, he’ll ensure local and state governments, their unionized workers and welfare recipients are bailed out with borrowed money — as he did again Wednesday with the passage of $26.1 billion in new handouts to states.

He’ll leverage big favors for reeling gaming conglomerates that can’t attract enough customers as a result of his party’s policies. “Trends are definitely headed in the wrong direction. CityCenter had a terrible quarter and another big write-off,” Hudson Securities gaming analyst Robert LaFleur told investors Tuesday.

Harry Reid wants to be the benevolent lord of a failed state.

His staff has a stock response to anyone who points out how badly Reid’s economic policies are working: Things would be far worse if not for Harry’s heroic gestures. Just like Reid’s defense of the stimulus bill, it allows him to create the illusion of doing good no matter how bad things get. Do Nevadans really want to settle for a man who can’t demonstrate actual improvement in anything he does? Especially when he ignores the wishes of his constituents?

Reid tried positive advertising during the primary season. Voters didn’t buy it. So his campaign is now focused almost exclusively on marginalization.

If Reid wants Nevadans to start liking him, he should stop voting like Nancy Pelosi.

That’s not going to happen. That’s why he’s going to have a very hard time beating Sharron Angle.

She’s finally engaged in the campaign. Whatever foolish things she said in the months and years past, she has the right message now. The fight is on.

Glenn Cook (gcook@reviewjournal.com) is a Review-Journal editorial writer.

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