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Tax day tea party rallies draw hundreds in NV

Sandra Chereb
Associated Press Writer

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – A vocal crowd angry at government in general and Democratic Senate Majority leader Harry Reid in particular converged Thursday on the Capitol Complex in Carson City and in Las Vegas to demand changes in Washington through the ballot box.

About 500-600 people marked tax deadline day in Nevada’s capital as others did around the country with tea party rallies that highlighted conservative candidates seeking office in November.

The turnout was less than half the size of the estimated 2,000 people who attended last year’s rally. The atmosphere was colorful and boisterous but cordial, and no problems were reported.

Across the street, a handful of counter demonstrators showed support for a fair tax system to fund schools and services.

“I love America. I pay taxes,” read one sign help by a man on stilts dressed as Uncle Sam.

In Las Vegas, tea party supporters began trickling into Sunset Park hours ahead of a planned afternoon rally.

Ken Roof, 61, said he felt betrayed by federal lawmakers and planned to rally to show how angry he is.

“We are angry. We’re angry about taxes, we’re angry about this health care thing,” he said.

Roof held a sign that said “Vote them out 2010” and had photographs of Reid, U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley and Rep. Dina Titus, all Democrats.

Roof, who came to the demonstration with his wife Rose Marie, said conservative citizens have historically trusted the government but have become upset with how President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress have steered the country.

“When the government starts pulling what they’re pulling, people start waking up,” Roof said.

On this day, big government – and incumbents – were the clear target of wrath.

“There’s too much government in our life,” Dottie Finnell of Dayton said at the Carson City rally. Her husband, John, carried a sign reading, “Harry Reid has embarrassed Nevada long enough.”

Unseating Reid, who is seeking a fifth term, is a priority for the national Republican Party, and a dozen GOP candidates in Nevada are seeking the nomination in the June 8 primary. Several, including former state Sen. Sue Lowden, who is leading in GOP polls, and John Chachas, a former Wall Street investment banker, spoke at the rally and asked for support.

Former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, described by one tea party activist as the “Marie Osmond” of the tea party movement, did not attend but was a crowd favorite. Angle was in Washington to accept the endorsement of the national Tea Party Express.

Gov. Jim Gibbons, facing an uphill re-election bid, drew hearty applause when he condemned the health reform package that he is challenging in court over the objections of the Democratic attorney general.

“It’s time to stand up and say, ‘yes, we are the party of no,” Gibbons said to cheers.

Donald Frye of Silver Springs, sporting a long gray beard, sunglasses and a holstered pistol on his hip, said he came to the event to “show my support for the Constitution and make a distinction of how far we’ve gone from it.”

He said he hasn’t decided who he’ll vote for in June, but will support “whichever Republican” wins.

Nancy Worthington, a former prosecutor for the Justice Department, said she was there because of concerns over what she called Washington’s “over extension” of power.

“There has been a problem the last 10-20 years,” she said, adding she believes the health reform bill pushed by Democrats and signed by President Obama in March violates the Constitution.

“We will end up with a single-payer plan. That’s the inevitable consequence,” she said.

Warren Jensen, 73, stood along the highway front holding a sign that read, “You can’t fix stupid.” Jensen said he’s voted all his life, but never attended a political rally until the last year’s tea party event.

“It’s the way our government’s going. The debt we’re getting into,” he said of his newfound activism. “The government is completely out of control.”

___

Associated Press Writer Oskar Garcia in Las Vegas contributed to this report.


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