Republicans lashed out at Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller after he announced that the special election to fill Republican Rep. Dean Heller’s soon-to-be vacant seat would be a ‘free-for-all’ in which any candidate who wished to run need only file a petition with the Secretary of State’s office.
Heller has been appointed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval to serve out the term of former Republican Sen. John Ensign, who recently resigned his seat.
The ruling is seen to benefit Democrats, whose candidate will likely be aided by a split Republican field. Miller, a Democrat himself, denied that this had figured into his decision making.
“How the rules may benefit one party or one candidate did not enter into my deliberations whatsoever,” said Miller on Monday.
But Republicans are not convinced.
“The Nevada Republican Party is extremely disappointed in the Secretary of State’s ruling today,” said Cory Adair, executive director of the Nevada Republican Party. “Secretary Miller seems to have allowed partisan politics to direct his decision concerning how to conduct the special election in U.S. Congressional District 2 … Secretary of State Miller squandered an opportunity today and chose political posturing and partisan gamesmanship over the rights of Nevadans.”
Adair added that the Nevada Republican Party might pursue legal options.
“The Nevada Republican Party will consider all options to protect the election process for the benefit of the citizens living in Congressional District 2,” he said. “This may include the initiation of litigation.”
The National Republican Congressional Committee echoed the state party’s accusations of partisanship, but directed its attack at Nevada’s senior senator, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“This blatantly partisan ruling from Harry Reid’s political machine is only the beginning of what will surely be a long and drawn out process,” said NRCC spokesman Tyler Houlton.
It remains to be seen if Republican candidates are on the same page as their party organs. Kirk Lippold, who was the Commander of the USS Cole when it was attacked by Al Qaeda in 2000, and has announced his intention to run in the special election, chose not to comment on Miller’s ruling.
“With the events surrounding the bin Laden news, Commander Lippold is spending the day talking to Cole families and military sources,” said a consultant for Lippold. “He is absolutely 100% committed to running for the Congressional District 2 next year and will have a statement soon about the special election.”