In Nevada Republican primary, former front-runner Sue Lowden ponders her fall

Wednesday, June 9, 2010; A08

LAS VEGAS -- Tuesday was supposed to be coronation day for Sue Lowden.

As a former state senator and state Republican Party chairwoman, Lowden was a prohibitive favorite in Nevada's Senate primary race. Less than four months ago, polls gave her a lead of 18 percentage points over her closest GOP competitor, businessman Danny Tarkanian, and a 13-point advantage over Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D) in a head-to-head matchup.

But Lowden ran second Tuesday to former state legislator Sharron Angle, who surged late in the race.

On Monday night in a Mexican restaurant, Lowden reflected on where things went so wrong. In her view, her campaign wasn't prepared to be taking hits from the right and the left.

"I'm not going to second-guess it right now. That needs a week or two to sit back and reflect what we could have perhaps done to better prepare for all the money that was used in the primary against me," Lowden said.

The "tea party"-affiliated political action committee Our Country Deserves Better spent roughly $500,000 on ads, mostly attacking Lowden's conservative credentials. The Patriot Majority PAC -- run by a former Reid staffer -- also spent heavily on anti-Lowden ads.

She also gave her critics ammunition, most notably a series of interviews in which she suggested that people should barter for their health care.

Over the weekend, a poll by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Mason Dixon showed Lowden to be in no better position against Reid than the other Republican candidates, taking away her strongest talking point.

-- Paul Kane

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