Raggio's Last Race or Last Hurrah?

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Studying a sample ballot filled with unfamiliar names and several unopposed judicial candidates, some voters may have wondered what was at stake in Tuesday's primary.

In fact, it was nothing less than the leadership of the state senate and, many would argue, the balance of power between the north and the south in the next few years.

No race in the Nevada primary is being more closely watched than the Republican match up between Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio and former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle.

Raggio was first elected to the Senate in 1972 and for decades he's been the key counterweight to the growing political power shift to southern Nevada. He enjoys the support of big names in his own party and the tacit support of many northern Nevada Democrats and Independents. His reelection has been a forgone conclusion for as long as anyone can remember. So, why is he in the race of his life? It’s due to an early primary and Sharron Angle.

The former Assemblywoman surprised many by filing against Raggio this year. A career of opposing taxes and a close race for Congress in 2006 have left her with good name recognition and a dedicated following. In a low turnout primary, that could be enough. With few other compelling races sharing the ballot and the date for the primary moved weeks into the lazy summer days of mid-August, a low turnout primary is just what we have.

Angle has challenged Raggio’s conservative credentials. He's countered that she's accomplished little in the legislature, but this election could turn on which candidate's supporters were paying attention and motivated enough to turn up at the polls.