By John Celock
Nevada Republicans handed Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) a big win Tuesday night by easily voting in his hand picked candidate for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor.
State Sen. Mark Hutchison (R-Las Vegas) easily defeated former state Sen. Sue Lowden (R-Las Vegas) by 20,000 votes for the nomination. Hutchison will now face state Assemblywoman Lucy Flores (D-Sunrise Manor West) in what will likely be the most competitive lieutenant governor’s race in the nation. Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki (R) is term limited and cannot seek a third term.
The general election for lieutenant governor plays out in the run-up for the 2016 race for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D) seat. Sandoval, who is expected to easily win reelection this year against Democrat Bob Goodman, is the top GOP recruit to face Reid in two years. Sandoval’s decision is thought to hinge on who would hold the lieutenant governorship and would be in a position to succeed him in the governor’s mansion should he defeat Reid.
Reid has been a top supporter of Flores, who is viewed by national Democrats as a rising star. Party leaders have touted Flores’ life story, which included stints in juvenile hall as a teenager and moving to get her law degree and her 2012 election to the state Legislature.
The Nevada lieutenant governorship has been a largely low profile post. The duties include presiding over the state Senate, chairing the state tourism commission, serving as vice chairman of the state Board of Transportation and as a member of the governor’s economic development board. Krolicki, a former state treasurer, has taken on a role in leading a coalition to promote Lake Tahoe and Reno as a site for the Winter Olympics. The lieutenant governor had previously chaired an economic development commission that was folded into another agency under Sandoval.
The race comes as a game of musical chairs occurs in the statewide offices of Nevada with the state seeing a term limited secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer and controller, in addition to Krolicki.
Secretary of State Ross Miller (D) is facing off with Republican Adam Laxalt for attorney general, while state Treasurer Kate Marshall (D) is facing Republican state Sen. Barbara Cegavske for Miller’s job. Controller Kim Wallin (D) is facing Republican Dan Schwartz for Marshall’s job. Democratic Assemblyman Andrew Martin and Republican economist Ron Knecht are running for controller.
Krolicki and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto are not running for other offices this year.