Candidates in high stakes political race for lt. governor job
By Caroline Bleakley, Senior Online Editor - email
LAS VEGAS -- The ads for Nevada's lieutenant governor primary race are now being seen on Las Vegas television screens. The race is a high stakes political battle between state Republicans and Democrats.
Lieutenant governors basically have two jobs. First, they work as an ambassador coaxing out of state businesses to move to Nevada. Second, when state lawmakers are in the capitol, they lead the state senate and help them wrap up business before deadlines.
Television ads show the Republican candidates for lieutenant governor clashing with each other. However, when it comes to their plans, if elected, they're almost the same.
The I-Team caught up to Mark Hutchison as he walked door to door in Sun City Summerlin. Hutchison is an attorney and a Las Vegas state senator.
"The things that I've done that I think I bring to the table are that I'm a small business owner. I started a business from scratch. I took a small business loan out and with a partner we grew a professional firm to almost a 100 employees now. I know what it's like to sign the front of a paycheck," Hutchison said. "To have to pay taxes to deal with regulation. I think as lieutenant governor and as an important part of the economic development team, you have to know that, you have to have experience."
His opponent Sue Lowden, a former channel 8 news anchor and state senator, currently owns a casino. Lowden spoke to supporters at a backyard meet and greet in southwest Las Vegas.
"I've built businesses from the ground up including an ice arena and a bowling center and a daycare center. It's something that I think is important for those who are looking to come to Nevada as a new business, they want to talk to someone who has actually run a business," she said.
Both candidates have different industries they want to encourage to come to Nevada. Hutchison wants to push for unmanned aerial vehicle manufacturers to set up shop in the Silver State. Lowden wants to encourage the movie industry with tax incentives. She is particularly interested in the "Bollywood" Indian movie studios.
Both candidates believe they are uniquely qualified to whip the state senate into working fast.
"I've been chairman of taxation. I was elected by my colleagues to be the majority whip, so it's not like I'm not used to herding cats, Lowden said.
"I've got great friends on both sides of the aisle, both Republicans and Democrats. I think I was somebody who was known for reaching across the aisle and being pretty practical and involved in solutions," Hutchison said.
He has the endorsement of Governor Brian Sandoval and a larger amount of campaign donations, but Lowden has the name recognition and personal connections that come from her 2010 U.S. Senate run.
Whichever candidate capitalizes on those strengths the most by the June 10 primary date will move on to the general election in November.
Both Republicans believe they will be facing Democrat Lucy Flores in the November election. Flores is an attorney and Las Vegas state assembly member. Since the state democratic party is not backing a candidate for governor, this second-best race has all the makings of a high stakes race.