Lowden to fund her Senate run


Sue Lowden is putting her money where her mouth is.

The U.S. Senate candidate pledged Friday to match -- dollar for dollar -- all donations she gets in January, February and March for her Republican primary campaign.

That could mean a lot of money if this past fund-raising quarter is any indication. She'll report getting $800,000 in contributions during October, November and December, according to her campaign.

Lowden's personal-funding pledge is her answer to one of her GOP opponents, John Chachas, a New York investment banker who is pouring a ton of his own cash into his campaign.

Call it the multimillionaire match-up.

Chachas, who's returning to his native Nevada after two decades out of state to run for Democrat Sen. Harry Reid's seat, has raised $1.9 million with $1.3 million of that coming from his own pocket. And he's got money to burn -- $1.7 million in "cash on hand" -- according to his campaign.

Lowden's camp refused to say how much money she has in the bank, but she's running hard and fast after jumping into the race Oct. 1 and is hoping her pledge will bump up donations.

"She's shown she has the ability to raise money and now she's willing to put up her own money as well," said Robert Uithoven, a Lowden campaign consultant.

Lowden's strategy is smart because donors want to see her personal commitment to her own campaign, said Eric Herzik, a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.

"She certainly has personal wealth and so it's a good signal to donors and it may even get more donations," Herzik said. "Whereas Chachas is just doing it with his own money."

The tactic could backfire, however, among voters turned off by "rich people running for office," including conservative Tea Party activists and populists who want regular people in office, he said.

Lowden and her husband, Paul, are worth at least $50 million in stock holdings alone, according to a report filed last year by the gaming executives with the State Office of Public Record.

The little-known Chachas, a managing director at Lazard Freres & Co., listed six assets valued at between $1 million and $5 million each, according to a report filed with the same office.

Another Republican primary contender, former UNLV basketball star Danny Tarkanian, listed three separate holdings valued at more than $1 million. Tarkanian, like Lowden, has refused to say how much cash he has in his campaign coffers, figures that are due to be filed by Jan. 31.

So far, Tarkanian has raised $648,622 in contributions, according to his campaign, with $377,290 of that coming in during the past quarter filing period between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31.

It's all far short of the money Reid himself has raised as he seeks a fifth Senate term. The Senate majority leader raised $8.7 million as of Sept. 30, but hasn't reported total 2009 figures yet. He has said he's prepared to spend $25 million.

Contact Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919.