CARSON CITY - Former Nevada state senator Sue Lowden announced Wednesday that she will be a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor next year, saying if elected she will make the position her full-time job.
“I’ve taken my time and traveled all over the state this summer, testing the waters and taking the temperature of Nevada families and businesses,” she said. “The people I’ve talked to in coffee shops and grocery stores are still hurting. They want help. They need help. And they’ve encouraged me to run. So I’m in.”
Lowden said her extensive experience in tourism and economic development will be a strong asset in Carson City, noting that she understands from first-hand experience how overly burdensome government regulations and taxes discourage job creation and business expansion.
“When I chaired the Taxation Committee in the state Senate, I refused to even bring tax hikes up for a vote,” she said. “As lieutenant governor, I’ll use that legislative experience to champion proposals to cut red tape and reduce taxes no matter what some of the special interests think. I’ve stood up to them before, and I’ll do it again.”
Lowden’s entry into the race ensures a tough GOP primary battle between the former television anchorwoman and state Sen. Mark Hutchison of Las Vegas. Hutchison is Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s choice for the position.
Lowden’s last political run was as a GOP candidate against U.S. Sen. Harry Reid in his 2010 successful re-election campaign. Lowden lost in the primary to Sharron Angle.
Lowden’s Senate campaign was derailed in large part by her comment at a campaign stop about how health care costs could be lowered by bartering with providers. Democrats attacked her “chickens for checkups” comments, which she said were taken out of context.
The lieutenant governor’s race has taken on added significance because of speculation about Sandoval’s future after he runs for re-election in 2014. Sandoval, who so far faces no significant Democratic opposition, is a favorite to win a second term.
But questions have been raised about his plans in 2016 when Reid’s Senate seat is up for grabs. If Sandoval runs and wins, the lieutenant governor will become acting governor.
On the Democratic side, Assemblywoman Lucy Flores and Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins have both expressed interest in the lieutenant governor’s race.
Lowden said she has already experienced negative campaigning from opponents.
“Anyone who thought they could scare me out of this race with a whisper campaign behind my back seriously misjudged me,” she said.
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at email@example.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801.