Yucca dump backer runs for Senate

Former state senator Sue Lowden, who last year switched from being an opponent to a supporter of the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump, last week announced she will run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Harry Reid.

Lowden stepped down as chair of the Nevada Republican Party to make the race.

A former Las Vegas television anchorwoman, Lowden lost her seat in the Nevada Legislature after alienating the Culinary Union over issues at the casino she and her husband owned. The union threw its support behind Democrat Valerie Weiner, a former Reid aide, who won the race.

Lowden voted against the Yucca dump as a Clark County senator, but in December last year, she was part of a group of 60 Nevada Republicans who—led by nuclear industry lobbyist and former Nevada governor Robert List—traveled to Yucca Mountain for a tour and then called on the state to negotiate for benefits in exchange for accepting the dump.

Other state Republicans, including U.S. Sen. John Ensign, expressed their displeasure with the GOP tour of the site and its resulting endorsement of the dump.

Lowden said at the time, “I’m for opening a dialogue. I see no harm in talking about the future of the storage of our nuclear waste in this country.”

The day after the tour, Lowden announced to a GOP meeting that the group would be addressed by a young Republican who had changed his mind about Yucca after taking the tour.

The Washington Post said “national [Republican] operatives … saw her as the strongest candidate in what almost certainly would be a referendum on the Senate Majority Leader.”