CARSON CITY — State Sen. Mark Hutchison trails two better-known Republicans in a new lieutenant governor primary poll.
Citizen Outreach, a conservative non-profit organization, paid for the Political Marketing International poll of 4,921 registered Republicans that found nearly 27 percent favored Hutchison, a Las Vegas lawyer elected to the state Senate last year in his first electoral bid.
Hutchison earlier represented the state for free in a federal court lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act, known as Obcamacare. He was an ally of Gov. Brian Sandoval in the legislative session that ended in June.
Former state Sen. Sue Lowden led the Citizen Alert poll with nearly 44 percent of the vote, while Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Beers received 29.5 percent.
The automated telephone survey was conducted July 11-15 and has margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. No cellphones numbers were called.
Dan Burdish, the chief executive officer for Citizen Alert, said Monday he was surprised how well Hutchison fared, considering that he first ran for office last November.
The lieutenant governor’s race is considered particularly important as Sandoval may challenge U.S. Sen. Harry Reid in 2016.
If Sandoval were elected to the Senate, the lieutenant governor would take his place for the remainder of his term.
Hutchison attributed Lowden’s lead to the statewide recognition she gained in her unsuccessful Republican Senate primary run against Sharron Angle in 2010.
“It’s still a long way off,” he said of next June’s primary election.
Sandoval has endorsed Hutchison, a moderate who backed Sandoval’s move to extend more than $600 million in taxes for two years and a bill to allow driver authorization cards for noncitizens.
Assemblywoman Lucy Flores and Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins are possible Democrat candidates for lieutenant governor.
Burdish has worked on past campaigns for Beers and Lowden but said his views had nothing to do with the poll results.
Citizen Alert President Chuck Muth also has been associated with Lowden and Beers. The organization, which believes in limited government, does not endorse candidates but clearly dislikes moderate Republicans.
After an initial poll that showed Hutchison in contention, Citizen Alert conducted a second poll July 22-25 of those supporting Hutchison.
In this poll, supporters were asked whether they would back Hutchison knowing that he voted for the driver authorizaton card bill and for continuing the taxes. More than 80 percent said no.
Hutchison said he finds it interesting that “everyone thought I was conservative enough when I was fighting the health care legislation pro bono for the Republican governor. Now, suddenly I am not so conservative.”