Election 2010: Reid, Angle make late push in marquee race

The Washington Post takes a look back at some of the more memorable moments from the 2010 campaigns.
By Amy Gardner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 2, 2010; 5:34 PM

LAS VEGAS - Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid strode into his campaign's tiny Summerlin office in the west end of Las Vegas Tuesday morning to a cheering crowd of volunteers and staffers -- and an even bigger phalanx of television cameras and newspaper reporters from all over the country.

Reid stopped by to offer his thanks to volunteers who were busy making phone calls, sorting stacks of hundreds of door hangers and printing walk sheets as they prepared to go door-to-door to urge voters to the polls. Reid is known for a formidable, well-financed ground operation, and that force was in full swing Tuesday, with long-time volunteers, campaign staffers and even Democratic operatives from Capitol Hill diverted to the job of getting out the vote in vote-rich Las Vegas.

Though soft-spoken and halting before the cameras, Reid expressed unwavering confidence that he would prevail against tea-party-backed Republican Sharron Angle once the votes are counted.

"We feel comfortable where we are, and we have a good get out the vote operation," Reid told reporters. "We've done extremely well in the early voting."

One of the volunteers on the phones behind Reid in the crowded office was Christine Lujan, 62, who has been working since April on the Reid campaign. Calling voters with a computerized telephone program, Lujan, who is Latina, is able to talk to both English- and Spanish-speaking voters. She's a lifelong Democratic volunteer who lived in northern New Mexico for many years and moved to Nevada when her husband got a job here in the uranium mining business.

She said her primary motivation is to block Angle, who she said is "just too extreme."

"I don't like what she represents," Lujan said. "To be honest with you, I've been praying that Sen. Reid wins."

Angle, who lives in Reno, voted at her local precinct midmorning Tuesday and was planning to visit a local party of supporters there before flying to Las Vegas for the Republican Party's victory party at the Venetian casino.

It is the marquee race of the year: the all-powerful Senate majority leader against the scrappy tea-party favorite. Nearly $60 million has been spent. Accusations have been hurled. She was "extreme," he "disastrous." In a race equally defined by his unpopularity and her penchant for speaking outside the mainstream, it seemed equally remarkable that neither could surpass the other.

On Election Day, Reid and Angle remain pretty much where they stood at the start of the summer: in a dead heat, according to most polls.

The outcome, if it is known Tuesday night, will be broadly interpreted: either as a rejection of Reid's partnership with President Obama during his first 18 months in office, or as a repudiation of Angle's embrace of the tea party movement's anti-government fervor.

Yet in the end, the result could just as well reflect a calculated choice of the lesser of two evils at a time when Nevada's economy is so stalled that there is appeal in neither the man already in power nor the woman who resolutely opposes using government programs to help turn things around.

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