Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle will be in Washington this week for meetings with top Republican strategists.
Her surprise win in last Tuesday’s Senate primary came despite having little campaign infrastructure and few friends in the Capitol.
“That’s the purpose of her coming in; she’ll be having those meetings next week,” said Larry Hart, a consultant to Angle’s campaign.
Angle is challenging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) -- one of the GOP’s top Senate targets -- so there will be pressure on her to follow the advice of the party’s Washington brain trust.
“There is a natural tendency to encourage candidates to hire certain people,” Hart said. “That seems to be a Washington syndrome.”
Angle has already hired the Indiana-based Prosper Group to help with online fundraising, according to the Associated Press. The firm worked for Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) during his January special election campaign.
NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) told ABC News last week that his committee was “solidly behind” Angle, despite having favored former state Sen. Sue Lowden (R) to win the primary.
Hart said Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul’s (R) experience shows that the GOP is willing to unify after a tough primary.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) backed Secretary of State Trey Grayson to win Kentucky’s May primary, but he recently agreed to host a Washington fundraiser for Paul.
“I’m sure that if he’s doing that for Rand Paul they’ll offer that for Sharron Angle,” Hart said.
Like Paul, Angle is relatively unknown in Washington and it’s not yet clear she will be willing to accept the guidance of a party she disagrees with on several issues.
But according to a GOP source, Angle’s expressed a willingness to work with the NRSC. And national party strategists have also communicated that this race remains one of their top priorities and will offer any assistance they can to her campaign.
If Angle and the NRSC can’t agree on strategy, the committee has other options it can exploit against Reid.
Sources tell The Hill that the NRSC’s independent expenditure (IE) effort, which is being run by veteran strategist Mike DuHaime, will be focused on Nevada. The committee’s IE arm has already retained Public Opinion Strategies pollster Glen Bolger to help hone its Silver State message.
Angle will also keep getting assistance from some of the groups that propelled her to success in the primary. The Tea Party Express, which spent close to $500,000 on TV ads during the race, will continue to be engaged, according to Sal Russo, one of the founders of the group.
“It’s safe to say we’ll be engaged in the general election in some way.”
He said the group’s focus likely will be on promoting Angle as a viable alternative to Reid. “Harry Reid’s negatives are so high and ingrained that [running anti-Reid ads] would be kicking a dead horse.”
There’s no question, he added, that Angle needs help to defeat Reid. “She has to hire a first-rate team,” he said.
While Angle meets with strategists in Washington this week, she won’t spend much time talking to reporters.
“She will start to do some national media but she is not setting herself up to be cross-examined by people who do not have the opportunity to cross-examine Harry Reid about his record,” Hart said. “That is what the campaign is going to be about. When you have a long-term incumbent, it’s about him.”
-- Shira Poliak contributed to this report