It looks as if the Sept. 13 special election to replace former GOP Rep. Dean Heller won’t be the flash mob of candidates that Republicans had feared.
In a decision that stunned the Democratic Party and buoyed the GOP, a district judge Thursday overruled Secretary of State Ross Miller’s May 5 decision to allow any qualified major party candidate to run in a free-for-all U.S. House race.
Instead, Judge James Todd Russell enjoined the secretary of state from moving ahead. And he gave the political parties until June 30 to nominate just one candidate each, the ruling the Republican Party sought in a lawsuit filed against Miller.
The decision boosts the chances the GOP will keep the 2nd Congressional District, which covers all of GOP-leaning rural and Northern Nevada and parts of Clark County. And it hurts the Democrats’ hopes of winning it for the first time in what would have been a crowded contest with at least four major GOP contenders splintering the vote.
“What a relief,” GOP national committeewoman Heidi Smith said from inside the Carson City courtroom after the judge ruled from the bench after a two-hour hearing. “It was ridiculous to think there could have been 200 or 300 people on the ballot. This puts things back to normal.”
The Democratic Party and the attorney general’s office — whose lawyers argued the case — seemed stunned by the decision and refused immediate comment. The attorneys, a total of five, huddled after the judge ruled, and several shook their heads in disbelief.