Election TV ad war between Lowden, Hutchison focuses on Reid

The new TV ad war between GOP lieutenant governor candidates Sue Lowden and Mark Hutchison plays out like a debate — charge and countercharge — centered on U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader.

“Republican candidate Sue Lowden claims she’s a conservative,” the Hutchison ad begins. “The fact is, Sue Lowden has contributed thousands of dollars to liberal Democrats, including Harry Reid.”

Hutchison’s ad uses Lowden’s own words to convict: “I donated money to Harry Reid’s campaign,” she says in a TV clip.

Lowden, speaking directly into the camera in her new TV ad, dismisses Hutchison’s complaint as old news: “My opponent wants to make a campaign issue over the fact that I donated money to Harry Reid’s campaign 25 years ago.”

Then Lowden cops to it: “He’s right. I did — when the senator was far less liberal.”

Hutchison proclaims Lowden’s help put Reid in a position of power.

“Lowden helped elect Harry Reid!” the Hutchison ad charges. “She gave thousands to Reid — not once, not twice, but five different times!”

Then the ad plays the damning Lowden clip again: “I donated money to Harry Reid’s campaign,” she says.

The Hutchison ad closes with this question aimed at GOP primary voters: “Sue Lowden chose to support Harry Reid over and over again. Why would Republicans choose to support her?”

Lowden defends herself by reminding voters that in 2010 she ran in the GOP primary in the U.S. Senate race against Reid, hoping to defeat him at the ballot box. Instead, she lost the Republican contest to Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle.

“Four years ago, I spent $2 million trying to defeat Reid,” Lowden says, making a reference to the amount of money she loaned her own campaign and never got back.

Then she goes on the attack, leaving the Reid issue at the curb.

“On the other hand, my opponent voted for a billion dollars worth of taxes and Obamacare three times just last year,” she says as the commercial shows a picture of a stack of cash with an arrow pointing up and the word “taxes.”

Lowden, a former TV broadcaster, ends her spot with a smile.

“I want to be your lieutenant governor, and I’m asking for your support,” she says.

Hutchison, an attorney, represented Nevada in its lawsuit against the Obama administration when it joined other states in charging that the Affordable Health Care Act was unconstitutional, partly because it forced people to buy a product. But after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law, Gov. Brian Sandoval moved to implement the program with the Silver State Health Care Exchange. Hutchison, like many other Republicans in the Legislature, backed several laws to implement Obamacare and expand Medicaid along with it, with the federal government initially picking up 100 percent of the Medicaid tab.

Hutchison’s ad can be seen on YouTube: http://bit.ly/RkW7pm.

Lowden’s ad can be seen on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvzfrfFtixM.

Both ad campaigns are playing on TV statewide, although the Hutchison campaign — without providing exact figures — said its ad buy is about 10 times larger than Lowden’s. Hutchison, who has been endorsed by Sandoval, has been able to raise more campaign cash than Lowden, who still owes money from her 2010 campaign.

With early voting starting May 24, the race has heated up between Hutchison and Lowden, both of Las Vegas. The primary is June 10.

The two candidates are scheduled to debate on Sam Shad’s Reno-based “Nevada Newsmakers” program Monday. He will air the debates statewide Tuesday. His program broadcasts on KRNV-Reno, Channel 4, on KSNV, Channel 3 in Las Vegas, on Charter Cable Channel 130 and on Cox Cable Channel 123.

The Lowden donations to Reid in the 1980s and 1990s are not a new issue; it came up during her 2010 campaign, and earlier this year Hutchison highlighted her contributions to Nevada’s senior senator and other Democrats.

Lowden gave a total of $5,000 to Reid. Back in February, Lowden’s campaign countered she has given nearly $100,000 to federal and state GOP candidates and causes, including Sandoval.

Her campaign also noted that Hutchison or his law firm had donated more than $7,000 to Democrats — judges who were running in nonpartisan races, his campaign said in his defense.

Although the lieutenant governor’s job is only part time, the race has become the focus of intense competition because of speculation that Sandoval might not finish his four-year term if he’s re-elected this year as expected. He could run for the U.S. Senate against Reid, return to the federal bench or accept a Cabinet post if a Republican wins the presidency.

The winner of the GOP primary likely will face Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, who has weak primary opposition. Flores is backed by the Democratic Party and Reid, whose sharp campaign organization is helping her.

— Laura Myers

ELECTION LAB CALCULATES ODDS

It’s all the rage now in politics: setting odds of which party might win control of the U.S. Senate in 2014 — most models favor the GOP right now — and even which candidate might win each Senate and House seat.

The Washington Post has come up with what it calls the “Election Lab.”

The newspaper explained on its website how the model works. It “looks at Senate elections between 1980-2012 and estimates the effect of several key factors in the country and in individual states or races — the rate of economic growth, the popularity of the president, whether it’s a midterm or presidential year, the most recent presidential election outcome in that state, whether the incumbent is running, and each candidate’s qualification (measured as highest elective office to date).” For now, however, fundraising and polling is not part of the model, although they will be in the future.

As of late last week, the model estimated the Republicans have an 82 percent chance of retaking the Senate. There’s no U.S. Senate race in Nevada this year, however, so the Silver State isn’t a factor.

The Post model predicts Republicans will retain control of the House. What about Nevada’s four House seats?

In the 1st Congressional District, now held by Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., there’s a 99 percent chance she will be re-elected to the Southern Nevada seat. Since Democrats have a 2-to-1 advantage over Republicans in voter registration, that makes some sense — although 99 percent seems high by any standard.

In the 2nd Congressional District, now held by Rep Mark Amodei, R-Nev., there’s also a 99 percent chance he will be re-elected in the Northern Nevada district, which is Republican territory. That makes some sense, too.

But the Post odds for the other two more swing districts seems a bit too high, weighted heavily in favor of the incumbents and giving their opponents little chance to win despite the on-the-ground competitiveness of the races.

In the 3rd Congressional District, for example, Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., is given a 96 percent chance of winning re-election to a third term. But the district is nearly equally divided between registered Democrats and Republicans and has changed party hands several times over the years. His Democratic opponent, Erin Bilbray, is no walk-over candidate, either. She’s backed by the Democratic Party and U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who is helping her campaign.

In the 4th Congressional District, freshman Rep. Steven Horsford is given a 92 percent chance of re-election. He is favored, partly because the district leans Democratic by registration and because he’s more well known than the Republicans running to unseat him. The top GOP candidates are Assemblyman Cresent Hardy, R-Mesquite, and conservative civil rights advocate Niger Innis, a popular public speaker on radio and TV talk shows.

The odds are sure to change after the June 10 primary and as the Nov. 4 general election approaches. And adding in fundraising figures and polling certainly will add some real-time information instead of a math problem to the equation.

The Post’s Election Lab website can be found here: http://wapo.st/1jw0vw4.

— Laura Myers

Contact Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Find her on Twitter: @lmyerslvrj.

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