The race for lieutenant governor is normally of minimal interest, but this year it is the race to watch. The reason why is a bit complicated.
Gov. Brian Sandoval is a shoo-in for re-election, after Sen. Harry Reid reneged on his promise that Democrats would field a “respectable” opponent. But, after he wins another four-year term, will he serve all four years or move on to a bigger challenge, like taking on Reid in 2016?
He isn’t saying, for obvious reasons. But his hand-picked selection of state Sen. Mark Hutchison for lieutenant governor is a pretty bold hint.
The problem is that the Nevada Republican Party had a different choice in mind, and its endorsement went to former state Sen. Sue Lowden.
We agree with the party’s choice, and the issue of mining taxes played a major role in our decision.
“I have an appreciation for the fact that mining is our second largest industry, and for many communities it’s the first industry,” Lowden told the Free Press during a visit in March. “… I think it was not prudent to vote for the issue to be on the ballot, and I certainly would be against any new taxes on mining — or for any other industry.”
The ballot question will ask voters if they want to remove the 5-percent net proceeds tax from the Nevada Constitution, which would allow lawmakers to set any type of tax they would like on the industry.
In defending his support for the question, Hutchison told the Free Press as a constitutional lawyer he believes “the people should ultimately decide what’s in their constitution.”
True. But the ballot question didn’t come through a voter initiative, it came straight out of the Senate taxation committee.
Lowden brings her own baggage into the race, including her shutdown of the 2008 GOP State Convention during a tea party revolt, and the “chickens for check-ups” debacle in her failed primary campaign for Reid’s Senate seat in 2010. Her handling of “bartergate” was almost as big a meltdown as Sandoval’s launch of the Nevada health exchange.
In terms of the job description for the lieutenant governor’s office — which is primarily focused on tourism — Lowden’s experience as a hotel-casino executive puts her in the forefront.
“I’ve spent the last three decades in the tourism industry,” she told the Free Press.
Sue Lowden is the natural choice for Nevada’s lieutenant governor. And politics are much less complicated when you take them one race at a time.
Members of the Elko Daily Free Press editorial board are Travis Quast, Jeffry Mullins and Marianne Kobak McKown.