Jillian Bandes
Matt, in responding to my story on Sue Lowden you made the sweeping declaration that she is the “clear frontrunner” for the Republican nomination in the Nevada Senate Race. Based on what?

Polling? Lowden and Tarkanian run roughly even when matched with Reid. And according to this poll,  Tark was in first place with 29 percent, and Lowden was a distant third. Granted, Dean Heller was included in that poll. But even in this poll, which everyone and their mother is citing, they're in a statistical dead heat. This other poll shows the same thing.

Organization? Due to being chairman of the NV GOP, it follows that Lowden has some kind of statewide organization, but we don’t really know since she’s never been a candidate. Moreover, whatever else you want to say about the Paul people, they work their tails off, and fairly or unfairly they now hate Lowden’s guts.

Those folks you saw last year hanging off highway overpasses to elect their guy? Now that energy is going to be directed towards destroying Lowden. Like it or not, it’s an issue she’ll have to contend with. Being State GOP Chairman is a great advantage, but it comes with baggage too. You have to make people mad in that job and Lowden clearly did.

Lowden also told me, personally, that she's traveling around the state, trying to up her name recognition in areas other than her home base of Vegas. That doesn't sound especially promising when stacked up against Tark, who has been campaigning for over a year already. Tarkanian has run twice statewide, so we know he’s got a structure in place too, although granted, he didn’t win either time. So they’ve both got pluses and minuses. So I assume you’re not basing your statement on organization.

How about money?

Lowden doesn’t have to file until January, so we don’t even know how much cash she has. While her personal net worth is substantial, this is a primary that about 125,00 people are going to vote in. You can only buy so much TV, and you can only be in the mail every day. Diminishing returns occur rather quickly. Granted, Lowden’s personal money would be a huge asset if she makes a general election, but again, doesn’t do much for her ability to get out of a primary.

Tarkanian has raised about $250k in the 6 weeks since his campaign started from over 6000 people. Again, we won’t know how that matches up to Lowden ‘til January, but not bad for starters.

As an aside, regarding the “showgirl” story, (which you quickly dismissed as “wacky”), I confirmed the story with two different McCain staffers with knowledge of the situation. There was even more that I could have included but left it out.

I do find it interesting though that in Lowden’s rebuttal to the showgirl story she claims she was merely joking, but then claims that it’s perfectly normal for candidates to be met by showgirls in Vegas. Well, which is it? Was it a perfectly normal strategy to suggest to McCain? Was the McCain campaign a few sequined bodices and flamingo head dresses short of putting Nevada’s 5 electoral votes in the GOP column? Was Lowden just kidding, contrary to what my sources tell me directly? Or did did Lowden just have a really wacky idea that in retrospect, she feels embarrased about?

Lastly, if Lowden’s not the frontrunner based on available polling data, in-state organization or dollars raised, from whence does her alleged status as “clear front runner” come? The only other thing I can think of  is conservative celebrity endorsements. And by my count, right now, Tark’s got Hugh Hewitt on his side.

UPDATE: Two of the three polls I cited were taken before Lowden officially entered the race, so that should certainly be taken into account when considering the frontrunner. I'm eager to see further polling in this race. Also, though he has certainly spoken kindly about Tark on his show, Hugh Hewitt has not officially endorsed anyone. I'm also looking forward to seeing his pick, if he does decide to endorse someone.

Jillian Bandes

Jillian Bandes is the National Political Reporter for Townhall.com