Take a Ride on the Tea Party Express

No one outside of Nevada had really heard of Angle at the time. She received just 5% support among Republicans polled by Mason-Dixon April 5-7, as former Nevada GOP chairwoman Sue Lowden led the pack with 45% as the clear frontrunner. Lowden's nearest challenger, Danny Tarkanian, took 27%.

Angle rose quickly in the polls, thanks to Tea Party Express, which has spent $411,000 on her behalf, after already spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to oppose Reid, before it even made its endorsement. The group aired TV ads telling self-professed Tea Party candidate Scott Ashjian, who had mounted a third-party bid despite facing felony charges, to "get lost," and it has run TV, radio, and direct mail in support of Angle, in its trademark simple, low-budget recipe for TV ads--the same recipe that worked so well in Massachusetts. Angle now leads Lowden by more than 10 percentage points in recent polls by Suffolk and Daily Kos/Research 2000, having jumped 17% in the multi-way race since TPE endorsed her. (See Angle's trajectory here at Pollster.com.)

As her candidacy gained momentum with TPE's help, bigger guns took notice. On May 19--just over a week after Angle had skyrocketed 20 percentage points over the course of a month--the influential Club for Growth, a DC-based free-market group that supports conservative candidates, endorsed her too. Since then, that group has spent over $470,000 airing TV ads and sending mail pieces in Nevada.

When Nevada Republicans go to the polls today, it is likely they will choose Angle as the Republican Party's candidate to unseat the vulnerable Reid, whose seat they have been drooling over for at least a year.

If they do, Angle will largely have Tea Party Express to thank, and the group will have proven that it is a serious contender in electoral politics--the contender, when money is concerned, to emerge from the Tea Party movement. Simply put, it will have made a Senate candidate. It will be a legitimate player, not just in the Tea Party, but in the broader political scene.

It's worth getting to know this group as it ascends on the national scene. And there's plenty to know.

For instance: its chairman, Mark Williams, does not like Muslims. At all.

Williams is a Sacramento-based talk radio host, having hosted shows in Sacramento and San Diego, and while he does not appear to be working as such at the moment, he maintains a website with a blog and radio clips.

In a post to that blog in May, Williams responded to news that the American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative planed to build a community center and mosque near the former World Trade Center. His commentary was...well, it was a blanket indictment of Muslims, in the most graphic and explicit terms:

The animals of allah for whom any day is a great day for a massacre are drooling over the positive response that they are getting from New York City officials over a proposal to build a 13 story monument to the 9/11  Muslims who hijacked those 4 airliners.

The monument would consist of a Mosque for the worship of their monkey-god and a "cultural center" for to propagandize for the extermination of all things not approved by their cult.
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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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