- The Washington Times - Friday, January 22, 2010

Nevada heats up

Republican infighting is getting started in Nevada, where two party candidates eager to knock Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, out of his seat are testing the battle lines against each other in the run-up to the June primary.

Republican senatorial contender Sue Lowden has been quick to push back on the critical comments her primary opponent, Danny Tarkanian, has been making about her to the media.

He called her a “GOP cheerleader” and “go-along-to-get-along” candidate during a small round table in downtown Washington on Tuesday.

Lowden campaign manager Robert Utihoven fired back by telling The Washington Times in an e-mail, “It’s unfortunate that Danny has taken his campaign so negative, so early. … It is also ironic that while Sue Lowden is touring Nevada, shaking hands, meeting voters and discussing important issues, Danny is name-calling from Washington, DC.”

Team Lowden also advanced another blow to Mr. Tarkanian by questioning his viability.

“The fact is, Sue Lowden has a record, while all Danny has is rhetoric,” Mr. Utihoven said. “Sue Lowden previously earned her way into office by running against and defeating an entrenched state senate majority leader in a three-to-one Democratic district. On the other hand, Danny Tarkanian has been shopping for a political office in Nevada for three of the last four election cycles - and he is yet to win a general election.”

Mr. Tarkanian discussed an unsuccessful campaign for the Nevada State Senate with reporters on Tuesday, reminding them that he won $150,000 in a defamation lawsuit against his then-Democratic opponent, Mike Schneider, for misleading attacks he made against Mr. Tarkanian in that race.

“I lost and came right back,” he said. Mr. Tarkanian won the Republican nomination to run for Nevada’s secretary of state in 2006 but lost the general election to Democrat Ross Miller. He said winning the defamation case and running for office again in 2006 shows tenacity on his behalf.

Mr. Tarkanian also pledged to oppose financial bailouts and drew attention to an interview Mrs. Lowden granted to the Nevada Appeal in which she said it would be “easy” to say she would have voted against bank bailouts, “but I can’t do that.”

Team Tarkanian has taken this to mean Mrs. Lowden can’t be trusted by Republicans on spending matters, which Mrs. Lowden says is “false and misleading.”

“I cannot say that such a NO vote would have been easy,” she wrote in a Monday blog post on her Web site. “I wasn’t there nor was Danny.”

Mrs. Lowden added that other leading Republicans voted for the bailout and listed a handful of senators who supported it.

“True fiscal conservatives I deeply respect and admire happened to vote in favor of TARP including Senators John Thune, Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn and probably the most conservative of them all Senator Tom Coburn,” she said.

Mrs. Lowden supports legislation sponsored by Mr. Thune, North Dakota Republican, to return unspent TARP funds to the government for debt reduction.

NOH8 Campaign

The wife of Republican Sen. John McCain, Cindy, is following in her daughter’s footsteps by becoming the latest spokeswoman for a campaign supporting gay marriage.

Meghan McCain, who has been an outspoken supporter of gay rights, is a member of photographer Adam Bouska’s No on H8 effort, which opposes California’s Proposition 8 to ban gay marriage. Now, so is Mrs. McCain.

Mr. Bouska has taken pictures of many celebrities, all wearing a piece of duct tape over their mouths and “NO H8” written on their cheeks. Miss McCain posed for the campaign holding a tiny elephant, the symbol of the Republican Party, in her hands in June.

Mrs. McCain was announced as a new model for the campaign on Wednesday.

“In the year since we’ve started the NOH8 Campaign, we’ve been surprised at some of the different individuals who have approached us showing their support,” Mr. Bouska wrote on his blog. “Few, though, have surprised us more than Cindy McCain, the wife of Senator John McCain and mother to vocal marriage equality advocate Meghan McCain. The McCains are one of the most well known Republican families in recent history, and for Mrs. McCain to have reached out to us to offer her support truly means a lot. Although we had worked with Meghan McCain before and we were aware of her own position, we’d never really thought the cause might be something her mother could get behind.”

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@ washingtontimes.com.