The Nevada Supreme Court has determined the two major political parties can choose one candidate each to run for the state’s open Congressional District 2 seat, putting an end to Secretary of State Ross Miller’s vision of a “ballot royale.”
There will be only eight candidates — not 30 — on the ballot when U.S. Sen. Dean Heller’s replacement is chosen in a special election Sept. 13. Republican Mark Amodei and Democrat State Treasurer Kate Marshall will top the ballot along with candidates from the Independent American and Libertarian parties and four independents. The decision is important more for political reasons than legal concerns.
Nevada’s Congressional District 2 is heavily Republican. No Democrat has ever won election in the district, which spreads over most of the state and even includes a small part of Clark County.
Republicans feared loading the ballot with up to 15 Republicans and as many other candidates would split the vote and allow a strong Democrat to eke out a victory.
The high court determined the 2003 law governing special elections was unclear — it was written in response to the 9/11 terror attacks — but that earlier laws make it clear such vacancies are filled through party nomination, and not free-for-alls with potentially dozens of candidates on the ballot.
Given the ambiguity, the high court affirmed District Court Judge James Todd Russell’s injunction allowing the major party central committees to each nominate a single candidate, “albeit for different reasons.”
Politically the decision is a huge boost for Republican Amodei, who was facing the prospect of a ballot that also featured Republican Kirk Lippold, which might have split the GOP vote and handed the seat to Marshall.