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November 22, 2017

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Two takeaways from the Sue Lowden, Mark Hutchison lieutenant governor debate

The biggest news out of today’s broadcast of the lieutenant governor’s debate: Mark Hutchison and Sue Lowden actually agreed on something.

They oppose legalizing pot smoking for fun.

Other than that, Hutchison, the Republican establishment candidate, and Lowden, the far right candidate, stuck to their talking points and name-calling in the 30-minute showdown. (Watch the full debate.) They're running to win the Republican nomination in the June 10 primary. The winner is expected to face Democrat Lucy Flores in November's general election.

For those on the fence, here are a few takeaways they can pocket:

Hutchison and Sandoval

If one thing is clear from the debate, it’s that Hutchison will stand beside the man who anointed him. Gov. Brian Sandoval hand-picked Hutchison to run and they share campaign staff. If Sandoval challenges Sen. Harry Reid in 2016, the lieutenant governor would fill the governor’s seat.

Lowden tried to exploit the Sandoval-Hutchison relationship. She attacked Hutchison for voting in favor of Sandoval’s budget that expanded Medicaid and extended $600 million worth of taxes that were scheduled to sunset.

“I’m sorry to see my opponent is attacking the governor’s policies,” Hutchison said. “I support the governor’s budget.”

Lowden also critiqued Hutchison’s votes in favor of implementing the Silver State Exchange, Nevada’s floundering health care enrollment marketplace that’s come under scrutiny for glitches similar to the federal system.

Riding on the governor’s popularity, Hutchison stood firm on his decision, saying “Brian Sandoval signed it into law.”

“It’s a shame that you have to keep using the governor’s name as a crutch,” Lowden said. “You’re running on your own here.”

Lowden: A millionaire with money problems

Lowden’s personal finances are a blessing and a curse. She’s a millionaire who has bankrolled her campaigns ($2 million in 2010 and at least $100,000 for this race). But debts she accrued from 2010 shadow her like the ghost of campaigns past.

Lowden owes $600,000 to consultants from her 2010 campaign and says she has a payment plan that’s awaiting federal approval. She’s also been sued by a pollster for $78,000, a claim Lowden is fighting.

“It is the political season and this has been made into a political issue because it is one of those things that could easily be misconstrued,” she said.

Hutchison, an attorney with his own practice, said Lowden isn’t paying her bills.

“As a small business owner, somebody who does work for somebody when they ask to do something for them, I expect to get paid.”

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