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Lowden’s stance a contrast to year ago

Republican challenger Sue Lowden is using incumbent Sen. Harry Reid’s awkward racial comment about President Barack Obama’s lack of "Negro dialect" as an opportunity to raise money.

It was only last year, however, that Lowden was defending Reid on issues of race.

An e-mail from Lowden’s campaign Monday led with this: "Most Americans have now heard about Senate Majority Leader Reid’s outrageous, racially charged comments about Barack Obama. What most Americans don’t know is that this is the kind of behavior we have come to expect from him."

But last year when Reid was attacked for an alleged reluctance to welcome Roland Burris, who is black, to fill the Senate seat vacated by Obama, Lowden said she did not think Reid was motivated by race.

Burris’ arrival to the Senate was controversial because it came through disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was impeached by state legislators for abuse of power related to his attempts to fill the Obama seat.

On Jan. 5 of last year, the Review-Journal reported on a statement in support of Reid on race issues from Lowden, then chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Party.

In it, Lowden said people can call Reid a lot of things, "but racist is certainly not one of them."

"Harry may be wrong on 99 out of 100 issues politically — including national defense, taxes, spending, health care, immigration, education and Social Security — but to suggest that he’s not comfortable around black people and wants to keep the Senate ‘lily white’ is absurd on its face and thoroughly offensive to all Nevadans of every political stripe," Lowden said in a state Republican Party news release.

Lowden consultant Robert Uithoven said that she stands by the comments from last year and the fundraising e-mail Monday.

"Sue Lowden believes that what Senator Reid said was clearly offensive and deserved the apology he provided," Uithoven said.

"She stands by her comments from last year, though there is a growing concern that Senator Reid has held his political opponents to a standard different from his own. That deserves an explanation to the Nevada voters."

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861.

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