Sharron Angle will not run against Rep. Dean Heller in Nevada’s open GOP Senate primary, but will instead seek Heller’s House seat, she announced today via web video.
In the video, Angle alludes to her 2010 loss to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and casts her candidacy as unfinished business for conservatives.
“The 2010 election was bittersweet,” says Angle. “But we still face obstacles from Democrats in Congress and in the White House.”
Since Sen. John Ensign’s (R-Nev.) announcement last week that he would not run for reelection in 2012, speculation about his GOP successor has focused on Heller, a popular congressman, and Angle, the controversial 2010 nominee.
Heller’s path to the Republican nomination is now quite clear with Angle out of the way. (Another potential Senate candidate, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki , has already endorsed Heller and is also looking at a run for the House seat.)
The news about Angle’s intention to run for Congress was first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Laura Myers.
On the surface, Angle would appear to be an early favorite to join Congress in 2013. She lost the Republican nomination to Heller in 2006 by just 421 votes. But Nevada Republicans caution that with much more known about the former state assemblywoman now, the 2012 race presents a different challenge for her.
Angle’s loss to Reid was one of the more disappointing outcomes for Republicans nationwide, and national GOPers privately lamented that her uneven campaign cost them the seat. And, even before she lost to Reid last November, Republican voters had expressed buyer’s remorse about their nominee.
Angle already is likely to have company in the Republican primary with Krolicki and GOP Chairman Mark Amodei considering candidacies.
The fractured field, however, could actually work in Angle’s favor, as she has a core group of supporters but could struggle to grow beyond that base in a one on one matchup. The smart money says the more candidates, the better for Angle.
Democrats, meanwhile, think Angle’s nomination could present them an opportunity to win the seat if they can recruit the right candidate. That could be tough, though, given that the district is likely to become more conservative after redistricting.
Nevada is adding a fourth seat — almost assuredly in Las Vegas-based Clark County — and Democrats are hoping it is a solidly Democratic one.
If that’s the case, Heller’s vast and rural 2nd district, which almost went for Obama in 2008 but is otherwise pretty conservative, would likely get redder.