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NV-Senate: Lowden Announces Against Reid

Former Nevada state Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Lowden will announce her bid to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today, immediately becoming the highest-profile candidate in an increasingly crowded field hoping to unseat the Nevada Democrat.

"I feel strongly that it is time for Senator Reid to be accountable to the voters of Nevada," said Lowden in an interview with the Fix. "He has forgotten about the people who elected him to be there."

Lowden also said she was "pleasantly surprised" by polling that showed her leading Reid since she hadn't been on a ballot of any kind in the state since 1996 when she lost her re-election race for the state Senate. (That showing has more to do with voters' displeasure with Reid than it does their love of Lowden, however.)

Lowden joins state Sen. Mark Amodei and businessman Danny Tarkanian -- among others -- in a Republican race that has seen several favorites of the national party (including former Rep. Jon Porter and Rep. Dean Heller) pass on bids.

Without those bigger names, Lowden has emerged as the preferred candidate of the political smart set in Washington. She is being guided in the campaign by -- among others -- Robert Uithoven who managed Gov. Jim Gibbons (R) successful 2006 campaign, D.C.-based campaign finance attorney Charlie Spies and Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams.

Wadhams, who managed the successful campaign of Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) in 2004 and the unsuccessful bid of then Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) in 2006, is a close personal friend of Lowden and his fingerprints are all over the team she has hired.

Lowden's finance director -- Janel Domenico -- held the same position for Thune and Allen. Her pollster is Todd Vitale who is based in Denver and worked with Wadhams on Sen. Wayne Allard's (R-Co.) campaigns.

While that team would suggest Lowden is the Republican to beat, there is little hard evidence of what kind of candidate she will be on the stump. Lowden held a Democratic-leaning state Senate seat from 1992 to 1996 but was defeated for re-election that year.

For the next decade she stayed out of politics -- working on the gaming (read: casino) business that she and her husband owned. She returned to politics in 2007 when she was elected state party chairwoman.

Lowden said her time as chair -- and the work she did in managing the state's early presidential caucus in 2008 -- helped her get to know the state as she traveled "up and down" it to ensure things were running smoothly.

Still, four years as a state senator and two as chair of a party that oversaw Nevada go from a red to a blue state at the presidential level and lose one of its two House members, is a somewhat thin resume on which to try to topple the most powerful member of the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Lowden's ace in the hole in that regard may be her personal wealth. She is the former co-owner of the Sahara casino, and she and her husband sold the property in 1995 for $193 million.

It's not clear how much of her own money Lowden would be able to put into a race although she said that she is well aware that "Senator Reid is going to have all the money he wants." At the end of June, Reid showed more than $7 million in his campaign account.

While Lowden's personal wealth may allow her to stay somewhat competitive with Reid financially, it remains to be seen whether she will be able to stand toe-to-toe with one of the great political brawlers in the Senate.

Reid -- like his colleague across the aisle Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) -- makes no apologies for his hardball tactics in campaigns and has a reputation in his home state as a kingmaker (and breaker).

Asked about Reid's reputation for tough campaigns, Lowden sounds downright naive -- "I am hoping that as a member of the Senate for three decades that he runs on his record," she said -- which should be somewhat worrisome for Republican strategists.

There's little question, however, that Reid's re-election prospects are in dire straits. Lowden's entry into the race gives Republicans a credible alternative to the Majority Leader and ensures this contest will stay high on the Friday Line for months to come.

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 1, 2009; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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You can't help but interject such statements as: (It has more to do with Reid's approval than love for Louden)and running against Reid's record would be worrisome to Republicans. Can't you write about the issue without the personal barbs?

Posted by: lewrex2u | October 2, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see Reid lose his primary and be replaced by a Democrat who's got the spine to fight for Democratic initiatives. For a guy who used to be a boxer Reid capitulates to powerless opponents way too much for my tastes.

His NIMBY spinelessness on closing Guantánemo was the last straw for me. And I don't like having Mormons in important posts, period.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | October 1, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Well, Lowden will definately start the race in the lead, even with over 50%. I would think this race will tighten. Who knows what kind of issues will be brought up with Lowden and her husband's business for all of those years. I'm sure there will be lots of dirt thrown. Reid, on the other hand, has a rough reputation for these political brawls and protecting the Obama agenda in Washington DC. That will be tough to explain to the Nevada voter. I think it could have been easier for US Rep. Heller to take advantage of than Lowden, none the less this is how it is. Reid will have a massive war chest and all kinds of outside interest group advertising on his behalf. Reid will still be tough to defeat here with Lowden. It will, however, use up alot of Democrat's resources on defending Harry Reid instead of playing offense in say, Missouri or Ohio, which is a huge victory for Republicans. For Democrats to have to put money in places like Connecticut, Nevada and know things aren't well in their camp.

Posted by: reason5 | October 1, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

"Sen. Ensign is very popular here in Nevada, and he has an excellent voting record," Lowden said. "I hope that he becomes part and parcel of what's going to be a very vigorous campaign."

He should be a tremendous asset.

Posted by: drindl | October 1, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Well yes and it would take quite a bit of pork to help people feel ok about the state of their economy today.

My friend in Las Vegas says there are more than 50,000 houses in Clark County alone that are in foreclosure or are already bank owned, with no end in sight

He'll have to try to hang it all on Bush and try to re-mobilize the hotel/server unions, hispanics and all that. But it is going to be really tough, unless of course his dirt diggers can find something nasty about Lowden.

Posted by: shrink2 | October 1, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"Tell me when she has five million to counter the massive attack ad campaign that Reid will most definitly employ against her. Until then this race is going to remain low on my radar.

Posted by: AndyR3"

I like Reid's chances (he's a better campaigner than he is a majority leader), but this is definitely not a "low on my radar" race.

Posted by: DDAWD | October 1, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I can remember when the party legislative "whips" were the bad cops and the party legislative leaders were the 'negotiators'. George Mitchell and Howard Baker come to mind, as do Mansfield and Dole. I do not think HR fits the mold of leader as we once knew it, even in fairly recent memory.

But Shrink, I am sure he has porked up NV and will make plenty of hay extolling his pet projects around the state as he campaigns. If he has not even done that, than the real estate bust might be enough to do him in, as you suggest.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 1, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

"One must assume that you were never in contention for any title containing the phrase "beauty"."

No, because I was lucky enough to be born with a brain and so did not have to degrade myself by parading around half-naked on a stage like livestock for sale to the highest bidder.

Posted by: drindl | October 1, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

She has more money than god, Andy. Didn't you read she was the co-owner of the Sahara? She's really really rich, and her entire platform is -- wait for it -- cutting taxes for the wealthy.

She is known in Nevada for being a down and dirty campaigner, as well.

Posted by: drindl | October 1, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Fun fact: Another beauty queen -- Miss NJ 1973! Wonder if this one can talk?

One must assume that you were never in contention for any title containing the phrase "beauty".

Posted by: snowbama | October 1, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

From the Sin City Xtreme [local politico paper in NV

"So with the current poll, and previous polls, it appears that Danny Tarkanian is the stronger candidate at this point.

Not only is Sue Lowden a polarizing figure among Republicans, but she is rumored to have the support of money-monster Sig Rogich. This is particularly interesting in that Rogich has already endorsed Reid.

Fun fact: Another beauty queen -- Miss NJ 1973! Wonder if this one can talk?

If Sue Lowden gets into the race, and if the rumors of Rogich’s support of her are true, she’ll have to overcome not only her reputation, but also the fact that Rogich is supporting her while supporting Reid.

Posted by: drindl | October 1, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Tell me when she has five million to counter the massive attack ad campaign that Reid will most definitly employ against her. Until then this race is going to remain low on my radar.

Posted by: AndyR3 | October 1, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

judt = just (darn Spellchecker ; )

Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse


You don't think that Sen. Reid can lose, or you judt don't care if he does?

Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: ketter | October 1, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

In 2006, Reid refused to support the Nevada Democratic senatorial candidate running against Ensign (R-NV) because - in Reid's own words - he and Ensign had a pact that neither would oppose the other.
And of course, Reid has been silent on Ensign's recently admitted affair with a staffer.

Reid needs to go!!!

Posted by: angie12106 | October 1, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Yes, good riddance.

Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Has a sitting majority leader ever lost a re-election bid? I know of Daschle, but he was minority leader at the time.

If Reid goes down, this suggests that the Democrats should not pick a party leader from a red (or even purple) state. With Schumer and Durbin as leading contenders, it would seem that the Republicans won't get the three-peat.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | October 1, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Couldn't happen to a bigger coward and slimy weasel.

Good riddance.

Posted by: snowbama | October 1, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

And this in a state that just took a brutal economic beating, especially in real estate.
If jobs and home value/building do not make a comeback in time, no amount of brawling will save Harry.

Posted by: shrink2 | October 1, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

If Senate Democrats were smart, they'd pick a Majority Leader who wasn't in danger of losing his seat every election. I thought they'd learn their lesson with Daschle, but now they're having the same problem with Reid. The Majority Leader is a target, so they should pick someone from a safe seat in a blue state. From that perspective, Pelosi is a much better Congressional leader than Reid.

Posted by: Blarg | October 1, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

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