Meet Sharron Lowden

Sue Lowden, the consummate Establishment candidate sliced up three years ago by the Sharron Angle buzzsaw, can only become Nevada’s next lieutenant governor by morphing into…Sharron Angle.

In a transformation that will require more makeup than she ever wore during her anchorwoman career, Lowden will have to masquerade as a Tea Party conservative running against the Establishment. Instead of The Anointed One, as she was in 2010 during her disastrous bid against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Lowden apparently plans to masquerade as The Conservative One to contrast herself to Mark Hutchison, now playing the role of the Establishment’s choice.

This will be a neat trick, requiring much campaign dexterity and revisionist history, and one that appears Sisyphean on the day of her announcement Wednesday. Granted, Hutchison has only been in politics for a cup of coffee despite being hailed as the Second Coming (or at least Governor-in-Waiting), and the Democrats have no candidate yet.

But Lowden, who was the classic good-on-paper-not-so-good-in-reality candidate in 2010, has a lot to prove this time around. And her initial television interview Wednesday on on "The Agenda" showed the kind of frivolousness and superficiality that she displayed in losing to Angle. She was unable to answer the most basic questions, including being unaware of the state's Catalyst Fund, one of the critical parts of the economic development plan Gov. Brian Sandoval proposed and had passed by the Legislature more than two years ago.

Pro tip: If you are going to run on a faulty premise – that the lieutenant governor is a key player in tourism and economic development even though Sandoval stripped the job of what little substance it had in those areas – at least study up on that faulty premise.

What Lowden has going for her, though, is she is a born performer, which she has proven throughout her life – beauty contest winner in New Jersey, perpetually earnest anchorman on KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, state senator for one term two decades ago and frequent national cable news talking head last cycle.

Lowden better hope the medium is the message, because hers is rickety. Her pose as the conservative candidate in the race will be undercut by a series of campaign contributions to the bête noir of GOP primary voters, none other than Harry Reid, some of her votes as a lawmaker and the 2010 campaign against Angle, who all but portrayed her as Nancy Pelosi.

My guess is Lowden will try to portray Hutchison, who supported extending expiring taxes and taxing mining,  as Angle lampooned her: Too liberal for the GOP electorate.

Granted, the analogy is not perfect. Lowden also lost because Reid meddled in the primary, with his people fronting a third-party that pummeled the GOP anointee throughout to help Angle win. And Lowden committed one of the most excruciating acts of campaign hara kiri I have ever witnessed, not only seeming to be totally unprepared for the race (she was unable to answer basic questions about issues) but then walking into and exacerbating the now nationally infamous and sure-to-be resurrected Chickens for Checkups fiasco.

Lowden's performance Wednesday on “The Agenda” has to reinforce those concerns among her supporters. It’s not as if asking about The Catalyst Fund is a trick question. It was a slow curve, and she whiffed.

Whatever else anyone will say about Hutchison, he is a serious guy who will work harder than any other candidate. If Lowden comes across as a dilettante, he will crush her.

Or will he?

The universe will be small – only 30 percent of registered voters went to the polls on Primary Day 2010. Angle won with only 70,000 votes – registered Republicans numbered about 400,000.

If Lowden can run a targeted campaign to that small core Republican voters – you know, the ones who embraced Angle – she may have a chance. Her problem, of course, is those are the folks who soundly rejected her in 2010. Lowden lost by 14 percentage points, and I’m sure some of the Ron Paul folks have not forgiven her for shilling for the Establishment or for any other real or perceived apostasy.

A far inferior campaign team also will hamper Lowden. Hutchison will tap into Team Sandoval, which employs some of best consultants in the state. Lowden so far has the Citizen Outreach clown crew, serially embarrassing Assemblywoman Michele Fiore and not much more. Even if she buys real talent, it will have to come from out of state.

Lowden should be able to raise some money, but after the low-hanging fruit disappears, she will be forced to invest her own resources. She put $2 million into that failed effort in 2010. And if she starts pouring money in this time, the vendors she owes a fortune to will surely sue her.

Let’s not forget history, either. Lowden won her state Senate seat in a Democratic district in 1992 with an impressive thrashing of the then-Senate Democratic leader, Jack Vergiels. But he had amassed a lot of baggage and ran a terrible campaign.

In Lowden's two races since then, consider:

She was beaten by a candidate in her 1996 re-election bid who actually advocated for a state income tax, banned in the Constitution. Yes, you read that right. But Democrat Valerie Wiener really was a bystander as the Culinary union, energized by Lowden’s stances as gaming executive, destroyed her despite their candidate's huge gaffe.

You already know about 2010, where Lowden was her own worst enemy. Some Republicans still blame her for Reid's re-election, but I'm not sure Lowden would have won that general. (More interesting question: Does Team Reid meddle in a GOP primary again, this time on Lowden's behalf? That would be delicious. And if Lowden were to defeat Hutchison and then lose to the Democratic candidate, thus preventing Sandoval from running against Reid, would Republicans then blame her for twice re-electing the majority leader?)

This will be, like the Senate race three years ago, the highest profile contest of the year because Sandoval will, almost surely, have only token opposition. So Lowden will not be able to hide from the spotlight and her performance will have to be more like Miss New Jersey than Ms. Chickens for Checkups.

If it is, she has a chance. If not, she will meet the same fate that the woman she is now imitating, Sharron Angle, met at the hands of Harry Reid.