THE OTHER REPUBLICAN IN NEVADA…. As of a couple of months ago, the Senate race in Nevada appeared to be following a predictable trajectory. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) was struggling in the polls, and Republicans were rallying around Sue Lowden, a former one-term state senator and the former head of the Nevada Republican Party. The central question of the race was how Reid would close the gap and manage to win re-election.

One chicken and a felonious campaign contribution later, Lowden and Reid have largely switched places. Last week, a survey from Public Policy Polling even found Lowden slipping to second place in the Republican primary, narrowly trailing former state Rep. Sharron Angle.

Perhaps now’s a good time to ask, who’s Sharron Angle?

Reid campaign spokesman Jon Summers said the majority leader is prepared to run against any possible opponent, but the campaign clearly relishes the thought of taking on Angle — and claiming Lowden’s scalp. Reid’s campaign has already cut anti-Angle ads, and its oppo research operation has begun digging into her record.

Democrats are eager to lump Angle together with other tea party candidates across the country — particularly amid the controversy Rand Paul has created with his comments about the Civil Rights Act.

And they believe an Angle win in the June 8 Nevada GOP primary would give them an appealing national narrative: that the Republicans’ November ticket across the country is filled with “extreme” candidates well outside the mainstream of American politics.

On her website — full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors — Angle declares: “Like a soldier going to war, I am fighting for my country, the Constitution and a free society.”

And as part of this effort, Angle reportedly wants to go to the Senate to fight to privatize Social Security; build nuclear power plants inside Yucca Mountain; eliminate the federal income tax; pull the country out of the United Nations; and allow unlimited campaign contributions. She’s also a hard-right culture warrior, backing the far-right line on immigration and supporting bans on nearly all abortions.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal, a conservative paper, conducted a survey that identified Angle as the Nevada Assembly’s “Worst Member.” Twice.

Angle does, however, enjoy the enthusiastic support of right-wing Tea Party activists, and thanks to Lowden’s humiliating missteps, now has a credible shot at winning the GOP primary, which is just two weeks away.

The growing optimism at Reid campaign HQ is no accident.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.