CARSON CITY — Former state Sen. Sue Lowden as expected announced Wednesday that she will file the paperwork to create a campaign committee to explore running for lieutenant governor next year.
But the Las Vegas Republican, who is 61, is seeking a seat that her party’s standard bearer, Gov. Brian Sandoval, wants someone else to fill: state Sen. Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas.
If Sandoval runs for and wins the U.S. Senate race in 2016, then the lieutenant governor would serve out the last two years of his governor term. By endorsing Hutchison, he in essence could be selecting his replacement.
Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Beers also had been considering a bid for lieutenant governor, but Lowden said he has agreed to serve on her campaign committee.
Lowden took a humorous swipe at herself in announcing her interest in the post:
“And as for those who think I might be afraid of taking on another tough primary race, let me assure you that I’m no chicken ... pun intended.”
That is a reference to her statements during the 2010 race for U.S. Senate that people with medical bills might barter to pay their doctors with chickens and other items. She was quickly dubbed the “chicken lady” by opponents and lost the Republican primary to Sharron Angle, who later lost to now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Lowden said her experience as a state senator in the 1990s and long career as a casino executive make her well-qualified to serve as lieutenant governor.
“My experience both as an elected legislator and a private businesswoman means Nevadans would get someone who understands how government policies often hurt businesses and discourages job creation, as well as how to work within the legislative process in order to make necessary changes,” Lowden said. “Truthfully, I wouldn’t need much on-the-job training because I’ve already been on the job for many years.”
Lowden said she and Beers are good friends who spoke at length about the race.
“His decision is that if I run, he won’t. I couldn’t ask for a stronger endorsement than that.”
In a recent poll of registered Republicans commissioned by the conservative Citizen Outreach organization, Lowden had a substantial lead over both Beers and Hutchison.
Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki has served two terms in the office and is prevented by the term limits constitutional amendment from seeking another term.
Who wins the office will be critical for Sandoval, who has said he will seek re-election in 2014 and is regarded as a prohibitive favorite.
While the governor has pledged to serve out a full second term, he could be encouraged by his party in 2016 to seek Reid’s’ Senate seat.
If Sandoval wins, then the lieutenant governor would become governor for the last two years of his term. But if a Democrat wins the lieutenant governor’s seat, Sandoval might balk at the Senate race so his party could keep control of the governor’s office, since the Democrats control both houses of the Legislature.
Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at email@example.com or 775-687-3901.