Tea Party Express Backs Underdog in Nevada

Could this complicate the push to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in November?

Tea Party Express, the prominent Tea Party group that launched its current bus tour with a big rally in Reid's hometown of Searchlight, NV March 27, at which Sarah Palin spoke, has endorsed a conservative candidate who is opposing Reid in the 2010 Nevada Senate race.

Interestingly enough, it didn't endorse either of the Republicans viewed as the most credible threats to Reid's reelection bid.

Instead, Tea Party Express endorsed Sharron Angle, a four-term state senator who narrowly lost a bid for Congress in 2006 and authored Nevada's Property Tax Reform Initiative.

"Sharron Angle is a hero for conservatives and the tea party movement.  There is no candidate who can match her record of principled conservatism.  At a time when politicians of both parties have betrayed the people's trust, Sharron Angle is a rare gem," TPE Political Director Bryan Shroyer said in a press release announcing the endorsement.

Angle is viewed as less of a threat to Reid than Nevada GOP Chairwoman Sue Lowden and real estate owner and former UNLV basketball player Danny Tarkanian (and son of UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, aka "Tark the Shark"). Hotline OnCall's Reid Wilson notes that Angle has less money in her campaign war chest than Lowden and Tarkanian and will likely be outspent by investment banker John Chachas.

As a TPE endorsee, however, Angle can count on some additional donations from TPE's network of supporters from around the country, plus any independent spending TPE does on her behalf. TPE announced this morning, in an event at the National Press Club, that it intends to target races in 2010, and it appears poised to channel some of its money and influence into midterm campaigns. Angle stands to benefit significantly from that new effort.