Nevada’s GOP First Lady To TPM: I’m Backing Harry Reid Over Sharron Angle

June 11, 2010 1:23 pm

Nevada First Lady Dawn Gibbons, a Republican and soon-to-be-ex-wife of recently defeated Gov. Jim Gibbons, said in an interview she is supporting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s reelection bid because he is the better candidate on the economy. But she thinks Reid (D-NV) has quite a fight on his hands this fall.

Gibbons, a former state assembly member, has been up close and personal with Reid’s Republican rival, Sharron Angle. They served together in the state legislature and were even opponents in a three-way GOP primary for the state’s 2nd Congressional district seat in 2006.

“There’s no question Sharron Angle is one of the toughest grassroots campaigners I’ve ever seen,” Gibbons told TPM in a phone interview.Gibbons’ recollection is that Angle is a tough campaigner but thinks most of the political dirty work in that race was done on Angle’s behalf by outside groups such as the conservative Club for Growth. “She did not get mean and nasty but she had people that did,” Gibbons said.

That’s one reason why Angle skyrocketed to the nomination on Tuesday — the Club for Growth spent big for her candidacy and she also was boosted by the Tea Party Express. But Gibbons also credited Angle’s campaign skills. “She’s a very good grassroots candidate, she appeals to the conservative base of the Republican Party,” Gibbons said. “She gave those people a reason to get out and vote.”

Gibbons said it isn’t fair that she was hit by Angle and the Club for Growth as a tax increaser during the 2006 primary. The legislature had to pass a tax to pay for the budget, she said. Gibbons said she voted for the tax but against the additional spending, and Angle did the opposite to keep her tax record clean.

“She’s a nice person don’t get me wrong, but she was one of the people that voted ‘No’ the most times, even a lot of times you have to stretch and wonder why did she vote ‘No,'” Gibbons said.

In 2006, Angle at first pushed for a recount after losing to Dean Heller by fewer than 500 votes. She fought in court to have a new election, but ultimately conceded after a judge disagreed a few weeks later. Gibbons came in third place.

Gibbons has her own theory about why one time frontrunner Sue Lowden’s campaign deflated Tuesday. When Lowden was chairman of the Nevada Republicans, she prevented then-presidential candidate Ron Paul from speaking at the state convention. Libertarians have been mad at her ever since. “Those Ron Paul people were upset with her. That came out in the election because those are the people that remembered and this was their time to get even,” Gibbons said.

As for Reid, Gibbons said she considers him to be “effective” for Nevada and the economy. She said she endorsed him last fall and is “very passionate” about his reelection.

She said Reid is responsible for stopping the dumping of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in rural Nevada. “That’s a blessing for all our children. We don’t want our children to light up at night, thank you very much,” she said.

On a trip to Washington in 1997 with her husband on official business, she noticed people were being extra nice because they were from Reid’s home state of Nevada. “We got better treatment when we were in Washington, and that’s kind of nice,” Gibbons said.

Gibbons, who now hosts a Nevada radio show, declined to weigh in on the disgraced governor, who lost in the Republican primary Tuesday. She said she won’t be taking sides in the governor’s race, which will pit Reid’s son Rory Reid (D) against Brian Sandoval (R).

Gibbons filed for divorce in May 2008 following sexual harassment claims. Here’s the most detailed article out there on their relationship.

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