CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada's hotly contested Senate race had rivals Harry Reid and Sharron Angle serving flapjacks, petting dogs and shaking hands as they worked for last-minute votes during Nevada's statehood celebration.
The Nevada Day Parade, part of three-day state holiday, is one politicians rarely miss, especially in an election year.
Reid, the Democratic majority leader, strolled the back streets before the festivities began Saturday, talking to entrants as they assembled. He watched the parade from along Carson City's main drag.
Polls have consistently shown the race too close to call.
Angle donned a white apron before the sun rose to dish up pancakes at a crowded Republican Women's breakfast held at the Governor's Mansion.
As a line of diners shuffled past, Angle, 61, said she was "cautiously optimistic" she will beat the Democratic majority leader in Tuesday's election.
"It's all about meeting the voters now," she said. The former state assemblywoman did a lot of that, walking the two-mile long parade route not once, but twice.
Reid, speaking with reporters, said he understands voter frustration and anger in a state that leads the nation in joblessness, foreclosures and bankruptcies.
"I've never seen the economy the way it is either," Reid said. "It's a very difficult time for people.
"For 20 years we were at the top of the economic food chain," he said of Nevada. "But I didn't create the economic problems. If that's the case, I should get credit for the 26 years it was good."
Bill Elliott, a 44-year-old emergency manager, greeted Reid with a handshake. His mother and Reid were classmates at Basic High School.
"I think the economy was going down hill" before Democrats took control, Elliott said. "Frankly, I think it was Republican policies that created the situation we're in now."
Independent voters — there are 175,000 in Nevada — will be key to the outcome on Election Day. Democrats hold a 60,000 registration lead in Nevada over the GOP.
Down the street, Primo Quarisa, a Navy veteran, snarled when asked if he supported Reid after the senator stopped to chat with a group near a submarine float.
"I can't stand the man," he said. "I hope he gets defeated."
At midday, a small plane circled above the downtown area pulling a banner that read, "Anyone but Reid."
Frank Fauci shared the sentiment.
"I'm tired of the old crap that comes out of Washington," he said. Maybe Angle, he added, "makes a difference."
"Who knows. At least give them a chance," he said.
Erica Wesnousky, a member of a troupe of fire throwers, thinks otherwise.
Wesnousky, wearing stilts, strode toward Angle, shook her hand and exchanged a few words.
"I told her, "Your policies do not work for me, they don't work for Nevada, and I wish you a big loss," Wesnousky told The Associated Press afterward.
Associated Press video journalist Rich Matthews contributed to this report.
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