Nevada GOP Senate Candidate Reportedly Belonged To Far-Right Third Party

This is the kind of information that I’m sure Harry Reid is looking for in his effort to turn the Nevada Senate race into a referendum on Sharron Angle:

The key to understanding Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle may be the fact that she has not always been a Republican.

For at least six years in the 1990s before she held state-level elective office, Angle was a member of the little-known Independent American Party, a right-wing party that combines elements of Ron Paul’s doctrinaire libertarianism — pro-gun, anti-tax, anti-bureaucracy, pro-states’ rights — with Christian social conservatism and fear of the “North American Union” and other forms of “global government.” The small party attracted considerable controversy in 1994 when it took out a newspaper ad titled “Consequences of Sodomy: Ruin of a Nation,” which suggested HIV could spread through the water.

Three members of the Independent American Party tell TPM that Angle, a Nye County, Nevada, school board member at the time, was an active member of the party in the 1990s. They say she only left the Independent American Party and became a Republican out of political expediency when she decided to seek a seat in the state assembly, to which she was elected in 1998.

“It was because she wanted to run for office. And it was difficult for members of our party to get elected at that time,” Janine Hansen, executive director of the Independent American Party, tells TPM. “It was a strategic move on her part.”

Hansen’s brother, the late Daniel Hansen, founded the Independent American Party in 1967 “after realizing that the Republican Party was growing too corrupt and socialistic,” according to the party website. The party lost its ballot position in the late 1970s and didn’t get back on until a push by Hansen in 1992. That year, Angle signed the petition to get the Independent American Party back on the ballot, according to multiple party members and news reports.

That was a heady time for the reborn party. A 1992 Los Angeles Times article (via Nexis) describes Hansen at a political rally wearing a Stetson hat and bearing a sign that read, “If Guns Are Outlawed, How Can We Shoot the Liberals?” His rhetoric would not be out of place at a 2010 tea party.

“Don’t give up your guns, folks,” he told a crowd. “That’s all we’ve got to protect us against the advance of socialism. America is in a survival phase.”

This strikes me as somewhat similar to the stories that circulated in the days before and after the 2008 Republican Convention that either Sarah Palin or her husband Todd had once belonged to the Alaska Independence Party, a political party that advocates Alaskan secession from the United States. As it turned out, it was Todd Palin who had once joined the party. and the AIP never really became an issue in the Presidential election.

Will this become an issue for Angle ? It’s hard to say, but it will be yet another issue that Reid can use to paint her as an extremist and to try to turn the election into a referendum about her. If he succeeds, then he just might win this thing.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. grampagravy says:

    I’d say her previous party affiliations might be the least of her troubles. She is on record as saying fluoride in the water is a communist conspiracy, social security should be privatized, she’s not in support of alcohol being legal, and I’m sure there’s more of this kind of stuff in her history–Maddow just hasn’t found the clips yet. Unless one chooses to believe that the Great Republican in the Sky has sprinkled anti-nutcase dust on this one–living down her past statements is going to be a tough haul.

  2. An Interested Party says:

    Someone should ask her what she thinks of the president’s birth certificate…considering all the loony views she holds, I’m sure she would give a juicy response to that question…

  3. Steve Plunk says:

    I just love watching the liberal Left go berserk over conservative candidates. I wonder how they would react if a Dem leader in the senate used to belong to the KKK or if someone attended a meeting of communists in college. Get a grip, she’s a Republican.

    I’ve heard the rumors of unconventional ideas but so far nothing of substance has come up. I said it before but how does she stack up against McKinney, Kucinich, et al? If belonging to the Independent American party at one time makes her extremist how does Harry Reid look as the big backer of Obamacare? Extreme?

    I know people want to find a kook in the Republican party but both sides have outliers that aren’t right down the middle of moderate thinking. I say get over it, look at what the campaign issues are, and quit going all Indiana Jones digging up old bones.

  4. drew says:

    News Item:

    Nevada GOP Senate Candidate Reportedly Belonged To Far-Right Third Party

    Reality Item:

    President of United States Obviously Far Left of Democratic Party

  5. Herb says:

    You mean she’s a RINO????

    Well….aren’t they all….

  6. If the choicefor Nevadans is a certifiable far right loon or Harry Reid, I’m still not sure Harry wins.

  7. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Who is the reportedly by? Reid? No doubt. As far as being a birther. Why is it no one on earth has seen the long form certificate with doctor’s signature stating he attended the live birth? Funny thing about it is, no matter how much derision is heaped upon those who make the claim Obama was not born here, there seems to be a lack of absolute proof otherwise. Why are all of the college records sealed? Someone his hiding something and those on the left defend by pointing fingers and saying how stupid it is to ask. You must be afraid of the truth. The real problem is Obama Sr. was a subject of the British crown and as such, Obama fails to meet the requirement of being a NATURAL BORN CITIZEN.

  8. An Interested Party says:

    “I just love watching the liberal Left go berserk over conservative candidates.”

    Hardly “berserk”…more like gleeful…

    “I said it before but how does she stack up against McKinney, Kucinich, et al?”

    When those people run for a Senate seat, please feel free to fire away…

    “I say get over it, look at what the campaign issues are, and quit going all Indiana Jones digging up old bones.”

    *Cough* Gennifer Flowers *cough* John Kerrey’s Vietnam War record*cough*…actually, to translate your statement, “Let’s completely ignore this person’s views and past statements which might paint her as a loon.” I’m sure the Reid campaign will consider that course of action…

  9. grampagravy says:

    The “rumors” of “unconventional ideas” emanating from video tapes of her stating her positions aren’t going to go away. Her journey from extreme right-wing looney to electable Republican should be fun to watch. Maybe someone will ask her to explain exactly what she meant by “second amendment solutions” when the ballot box fails.