(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – As U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Vice President Joe Biden entertained some deep-pocket supporters here today, one of the Republicans vying to take on the long-time lawmaker was a few yards away, meeting with voters while collecting food for a local food bank.
Sue Lowden, a former state senator and Las Vegas businesswoman, held her event at the Grand Sierra Hotel parking lot. Inside, Reid supporters were paying $2,400 to eat breakfast with Biden.
Outside, a can of donated food got you a cup of coffee and a doughnut.
Stopping by to chat were state Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, and Ben Kieckhefer, a GOP candidate for the Washoe state Senate seat held by Randolph Townsend, who is leaving office next year due to term limits. Kieckhefer, a state employee, was taking his unpaid furlough day to attend the event.
Reno Assemblyman Ty Cobb is also seeking Townsend’s Washoe 4 seat.
Lowden chatted with supporters and answered questions about her decision to enter the crowded Republican primary for a chance to face Reid in November 2010.
“We thought this would be a good demonstration of how regular folks are spending their morning,” she said. “We’ve collected a lot of food for the (Northern Nevada) food bank.”
Lowden said she believes her philosophy is diametrically opposed to Reid’s views.
“I think he has a general policy that government knows best and that government needs to take more control of our lives here in Nevada and I couldn’t be more opposite to that philosophy,” she said. “I believe in the private sector. I believe in personal freedom.”
Rather than having government dole out stimulus funds, elected officials should be giving businesses the tax breaks they need to hire more people, build their businesses and form new businesses, Lowden said.
“If we encourage businesses to come here and grow then they will hire people,” she said. “And if you hire people then that solves everything. They can buy a house, they can buy a car, they will have heath insurance. Everything else falls into place with a job.”
Lowden, who stepped down as the Nevada Republican Party chairwoman to enter the race, is one of several announced candidates, along with state Sen. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City; former Reno Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, Las Vegas real estate developer Danny Tarkanian and Reno attorney Chuck Kozak.
The Nevada Democratic Party responded to Lowden’s event by calling it a publicity stunt.
“We appreciate Sue Lowden’s gesture, however self-serving it might be, of giving food to the needy,” said Phoebe Sweet, communications director for the party. “Unfortunately that gesture doesn’t go nearly far enough to help Nevada’s poor recover from eight years of failed Republican economic policies.”
Reid has worked to provide funding for those in need, including $250,000 for the Northern Nevada Food Bank in 2005, Sweet said.