A Las Vegas Republican will launch a political action committee to oppose Sue Lowden, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.
Robert Holloway, 64, said he’s starting the Fair Nevada Elections PAC because he blames Lowden for a breakdown at the 2008 state Republican convention.
Convention officials allowed proceedings to come to a halt after supporters of presidential candidate Ron Paul appeared to have mustered more delegates than eventual nominee John McCain.
Paul was considered an insurgent candidate and McCain the favorite of the party’s leaders.
Lowden was chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Party at the time, although she wasn’t in charge of the convention. That responsibility had been delegated to former state Sen. Bob Beers, who is now Lowden’s campaign treasurer.
“It would not have stopped without her agreement,” Holloway said. “They ended the convention in the middle of an election.”
When asked whether he was concerned that Republican infighting in the primary would doom the eventual nominee’s chance to oust Democratic Sen. Harry Reid in the general election, Holloway said, “I think it is more important that an example be made and people will learn, like Sue Lowden, that they can’t get to the Senate doing these sorts of things.”
Lowden and Danny Tarkanian are leading candidates in the Republican primary to challenge Reid. Sharron Angle is a distant third, followed by several other candidates with support measured in low single-digit percentages by recent polls.
Lowden consultant Robert Uithoven said Holloway’s PAC would appeal only to “a splintered group of Ron Paul supporters who I think are still upset” with the convention outcome.
Uithoven said it is ironic they would take out their frustration on Lowden because she supported allowing Paul to address the convention just before voting for delegates occurred.
“Here you have a state party chairman allowing Dr. Paul to come to the podium right before the vote to speak about his candidacy,” he said.
The political action committee hasn’t done much so far. Holloway said he just sent the paperwork to establish the organization to the Federal Election Commission during the weekend.
And a donation tracker on an early version of the Fair Nevada Elections PAC showed just $50 in contributions today.
But the controversy Holloway’s organization highlights is real, said Fred Lokken, political science professor at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno.
Lokken, a registered Republican who says he plans to re-register as a nonpartisan, said there are Republicans who are still upset with Lowden’s leadership, and the convention controversy is a rallying point for that faction.
“The old guard of the party was caught quite off-guard by this upstart movement,” Lokken said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if there are still some people harboring some anger and frustration.”
Lokken said the convention breaking down was a symptom of bigger problems for state Republicans in 2008.
Between the April 2008 convention and September of this year, when Lowden stepped down as GOP chairwoman, the number of registered Republicans in Nevada declined by more than 12,000.
Conversely, the number of registered Democrats increased by nearly 40,000. Registered Democrats now outnumber Republicans by more than 111,000.
Uithoven said Lowden isn’t to blame for the losses. Republicans nationally lost ground in 2006 and 2008 and Nevada was no different, he said.
He added that Lowden, who ran unopposed for the chairwoman job, was the only Republican willing to lead the party during the rough times.
“There is always plenty of criticism after a tough cycle. But very few people are willing to step up and try to fight and bring the party back,” Uithoven said.
Lokken said Lowden should take some of the blame for losses under her leadership.
“It was not a good election year for the Republican Party which she was responsible for at the time,” he said. “This is where questions will be raised behind the scenes by party regulars who were probably more aware of what was going on behind the scenes during her party leadership.”
Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at email@example.com or 702-477-3861.