Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, on Monday endorsed GOP state Sen. Mark Hutchison in the race for Nevada lieutenant governor.
Although Romney lost to President Barack Obama in Nevada, he won the state’s GOP presidential caucus in both 2012 and 2008 and has a reservoir of support in the Silver State, especially among fellow Mormons.
Hutchison also is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In making the endorsement, Romney noted Hutchison, an attorney, represented Nevada for free in its legal battle against Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act.
“Mark has been a champion for Nevadans’ constitutional rights,” Romney said in a letter Hutchison’s campaign sent to his supporters.
“You and Mark fought hard for me in the last election,” Romney added. “I’m asking that you now help me to support Mark to become Nevada’s next Lieutenant Governor.”
Hutchison already has been endorsed by Nevada’s leading politicians, including GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval.
Despite that support, Hutchison is caught in a tight GOP primary race against Sue Lowden, a former state senator, TV newscaster and chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Party.
Lowden has attacked Hutchison on the Obamacare issue.
Lowden has criticized Hutchison for voting in the Nevada Legislature in 2013 to implement the health care insurance law, including an expansion of Medicaid.
Both candidates have run TV ads on the topic with Hutchison noting he fought Obamacare and Lowden criticizing his votes to launch the system in Nevada.
The lieutenant governor’s race has taken on an out-sized importance this year because of speculation Sandoval might not complete his four-year term through 2018 if re-elected this fall.
Sandoval might accept another judgeship or Cabinet post or run against U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., in 2016.
The lieutenant governor would become governor if Sandoval left early.
The GOP primary is June 10.
The Republican winner probably will face Democrat Assemblywoman Lucy Flores of Las Vegas in the Nov. 4 general election.
Hutchison announced Romney’s endorsement on Twitter. “BIG NEWS — Proud to announce I have received the support &endorsement of Governor @MittRomney. RT and #StandwithMitt #NVLG #NVGOP,” Hutchison tweeted.
Later, Hutchison sent an email to his supporters, giving them the news and asking for their financial support.
“Your support is critical, and I need you to get involved today,” Hutchison wrote.
Contact Laura Myers at email@example.com or 702-387-2919. Follow her on Twitter @lmyerslvrj.