Can you guess who the latest member of state Sen. Mark Hutchison’s “Team Hutch” is? It’s a name you’ll recognize: Mitt Romney.
Hutchison’s campaign — fighting hard to beat hotelier Sue Lowden in the Republican primary — announced Romney’s endorsement today. Here’s Romney’s part of the email:
“You and I both know that the fight for smaller government, for economic freedom, and to protect and strengthen the family is a daily battle.
“That’s why I’d like to introduce you to my friend Mark Hutchison, who I believe is the right choice for Lieutenant Governor in Nevada.
“Mark is first and foremost a husband and father. He will fight to protect and defend Nevada families. As a business owner, he understands the weight of crippling taxes and over-regulation on small businesses and families.
“Will you join me, Governor Brian Sandoval, Senator Dean Heller, Congressman Joe Heck and the other hard working Nevadans who support Mark as Nevada’s next Lieutenant Governor?
“Mark has been a champion for Nevadan’s constitutional rights. When he was appointed by Governor Sandoval to lead the constitutional fight against Obamacare for Nevada — he took the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, free of charge.
“If you want to learn more, Mark has a TV ad describing his fight against Obamacare. You can view the ad here and help keep it on the air by contributing $10, $25, or $50 today.
“You and Mark fought hard for me in the last election. I’m asking that you now help me to support Mark to become Nevada’s next Lieutenant Governor.
“P.S. If you agree with me that Obamacare has been a disaster for America, then I hope you’ll join me and contribute to Mark Hutchison’s campaign for Lieutenant Governor.”
Hutchison and Romney actually have a few things in common: They’re both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; they’re both family men with successful business records, and they both have vacation homes in my beloved home state of California. (Romney’s — in La Jolla — is larger than my childhood home and Hutchison’s vacation home, both located not far from each other in Huntington Beach, Calif., put together, but good for him. I’d have a huge beach house, too, if I was a successful businessman.)
Notably, while the endorsement underscores one of Hutchison’s primary campaign themes — he fought the evil Affordable Care Act all the way to the Supreme Court! — it also underscores one of Lowden’s primary themes, which is that Hutchison is a total establishment guy.
Lowden has brushed off Hutchison’s pro bono representation of Nevada in the health-care fight by reminding audiences that he later voted for bills that served to implement the law once the Supreme Court had found it constitutional. And she’s criticized his votes on taxes, criticism that implicitly lands on Sandoval, too.
It wouldn’t be surprising to hear Lowden use the ad against Hutchison, saying of course Romney endorsed Hutchison — they’re both members of the Republican establishment that continually sells out the anti-tax base! That line would appeal directly to the members of the state party that elected to ignore Hutchison’s candidacy and endorse Lowden at Saturday’s convention. (Hutchison didn’t apply for the endorsement of the party, but neither did Sandoval and the governor was nonetheless endorsed by delegates in a secret-ballot vote.)
And there’s no small amount of irony in that, since just six short years ago, it was then-state Republican party chairwoman Lowden who shut down an entire state Republican convention rather than allow conservative insurgents to take control of the party. Her move only emboldened the so-called liberty movement, however, and now, she’s become the conservative darling outsider attacking the polished inside man.
It’s proof that if you stick around Nevada politics long enough, you will see everything.
By the way, Romney won the 2012 Republican primary with 50.1 percent (16,486 votes), easily defeating the next-highest vote getters, Newt Gingrich, who drew just 21.1 percent, and Ron Paul, who got 18.8 percent. But Romney lost the state to President Barack Obama, 52 percent to 46 percent, on Election Day.