Despite Nasty Campaign, GOP Will Unite, Lowden Says
LAS VEGAS — Despite being in the middle of a nasty primary campaign, former Nevada GOP Chairwoman Sue Lowden said Monday that once the votes are counted June 8, she and other Republican candidates will focus on one thing: getting rid of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D).
“The target, the goal in the end is to beat Harry Reid, and we’re all Republicans and we’ll support each other,” Lowden said during an interview at an American Legion Post in Las Vegas.
She said that she believes the other leading contenders in the primary — former state representative Sharron Angle and businessman Danny Tarkanian — will close ranks on June 9 to oust Reid, and the GOP will not see a repeat of the party’s problems in Florida, where Gov. Charlie Crist switched from a Republican to an Independent in order to avoid losing in the primary to the more conservative former state House Speaker Marco Rubio.
“I think that we’ve had spirited primaries in the past and that, unlike Florida, we embrace each other afterward,” said Lowden. “That’s the tradition here and I don’t suppose that that’s not going to happen.”
But for now, Nevada’s Republican primary looks a lot like Florida’s before Crist left the party. As Angle’s star began rising with endorsements from conservative groups such as Tea Party Express and Club for Growth, Lowden and Angle have been gunning for each other.
Lowden has criticized Angle for voting to increase her pay in the state house, and the Club for Growth began airing ads shortly before Memorial Day that take on Lowden.
“Sue Lowden’s attacking Sharron Angle? You gotta be kidding,” says the ad. “Sharron Angle’s Nevada’s leading fiscal conservative: a common sense fighter, always working to cut taxes for Nevada families, and reduce government spending. And Sue Lowden? She voted to raise taxes, supported huge spending increases, and backed Harry Reid for years.”
Lowden said she was surprised by the Tea Party and Club for Growth backing Angle has received.
Both groups, she said, led her to believe they would not endorse until after the primary.
Tea Party Express, for example, “said such nice things about me and my campaign and that they would be there on June the 9th and I was a little surprised they would take an active role before June the 9th,” she said.
She added, “And the same thing for Club for Growth. You know, I’ve spoken to them I am their kind of candidate and they’ve also said we’ll see you on June the 9th. I was surprised by both of them.”
Lowden has been beset recently by a spate of bad press, starting with her comments implying that a solution to rising health care costs could be bartering with doctors.
“In the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor,” she said in an April interview.
Then, she has battled accusations of campaign finance violations, including an allegation that she accepted an illegal in-kind gift of an RV and used general election funds before winning the primary.
As a result, her large lead in the polls has narrowed significantly, with Lowden and Angle now in a statistical tie and Tarkanian coming in third.
Lowden, however, said she always expected the primary race to tighten.
“We were never complacent,” she said. “We never took it for granted that we were up so high.”
But the intraparty battle has appeared to benefit Reid. A recent Mason-Dixon poll conducted for the Las Vegas Review-Journal shows that Reid is within a few points of both Lowden and Tarkanian and would narrowly beat Angle. Two months ago, a similar poll showed Lowden handily beating Reid.