STEVE MARCUS / LAS VEGAS SUN file
Monday, Aug. 9, 2010 | 2 a.m.
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Las Vegas Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, mother of defeated Republican U.S. Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian, pledged her support last week to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Tarkanian, a lifelong Democrat, said she would have voted for her Republican son if he were the candidate chosen to go head to head with Reid, but because he lost the GOP primary, Reid will get her vote.
Tarkanian spoke to her son about her decision, and while it led to “interesting conversations,” she said, it caused no family friction.
On Thursday, Tarkanian announced she will help Reid’s campaign in any way she can.
Danny Tarkanian is stumping for candidates on the other side of the aisle. Unlike fellow Senate hopeful Sue Lowden, who has been largely missing from the political scene since her June defeat in the Republican primary, Tarkanian is taking an active behind-the-scenes role in helping fellow Republicans who remain on the ticket. He’s one of the few candidates who lost the Senate primary who is pitching in.
Last week, Tarkanian hosted “Tark Week,” seven days of campaigning for the Republican Party. He and his wife, Amy, joined volunteers in calling hundreds of people to ask them to support Reid opponent Sharron Angle, along with gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval and House hopeful Joe Heck. Tarkanian also led supporters who backed his campaign in a “Walk With Team Heck” event Saturday.
“My volunteers have been tremendous,” Tarkanian said. “The things I’m asking them to do haven’t benefited me directly, but it helps the party.
“It’s disappointing to see all the excitement and possibility that was out there for me that unfortunately I wasn’t able to capitalize on, but it doesn’t mean you quit,” he said. “I think it’s important for the success of our party that people get involved.”
Tarkanian was tapped by Gov. Jim Gibbons to spearhead the Nevada Open Government Initiative. Long a goal of conservatives who say public employee pay is too high, the petition drive aims to place an initiative on the ballot calling for open contract negotiations between governments and public employee unions. Tarkanian is in charge of collecting signatures in Clark County.
John Chachas, another former Republican Senate candidate, is raising money for both Angle and Sandoval, according to GOP insiders.
Lowden, on the other hand, has been a scarce — some say nonexistent — sight in Las Vegas political circles. Her name emerged last week as plans for the Silver State Arena proposed for property she owns were put on hold, but Lowden has yet to actively pitch in on any political campaigns.
“She hasn’t been involved at all,” Tarkanian said. “The end of the Senate campaign got a little nasty between Sharron and Sue, so I think there’s some friction there that maybe hasn’t healed.”
“I can’t find her either,” said Chuck Muth, a conservative political consultant. “She has been very busy and tied up with this new arena project next to the Strip. That is where all her time and energy has been.”
Local Republican leaders said they held a “Sue Lowden phone bank” with staffers and volunteers a few weeks ago at party headquarters to campaign for other candidates, but they did not say whether Lowden attended. The party’s website makes no mention of Lowden or any campaign events involving her. By comparison, there were 11 mentions of Tark Week.
Calls to Lowden were not returned.
“The party has not united behind Sharron Angle,” Muth said. “A lot of them are gung-ho for her, but there are moderates in the party who think she’s too extreme, libertarians who thinks she’s too religiously right. She has not really reached out and solidified the base constituency.”