The Republican Party of Nevada on Saturday picked Mark Amodei to be their nominee in the special election in Congressional District 2.
In a vote by the Nevada GOP Central Committee, Amodei won on the first ballot with 221 votes. The other two candidates nominated by the Central Committee, Commander Kirk Lippold and Greg Brower, got 56 and 46 votes, respectively.
Until recently, Amodei served as the chairman of the Nevada GOP; his replacement will be elected in a later vote on Saturday. He is also a former Nevada state senator.
The choice is not necessarily final, however. A Nevada Supreme Court hearing later in June could overturn the lower court’s decision that gave the central committees of each party the power to choose a nominee, in which case the election would return to a free-for-all in which any candidate who wished could enter.
Brower has said he will drop out of the race now and not continue to campaign, pending a court decision, in the interest of uniting the party behind a single candidate. Lippold, who announced that he would run for the seat in 2012, before the vacancy was even announced, has said he will continue to run until the court makes a decision, and that he will still run for the seat in 2012.
A source involved in one of the campaigns explained that Lippold’s insistence that he would not drop out of the race if he was not nominated by the Central Committee lost him a number of votes over the past five days for “not being a good Republican” and helping the party coalesce behind a single candidate.
A Nevada-based Republican strategist said Lippold’s refusal to drop out did not play well.
“Like a spoiled kid on the playground,” the consultant said.
In a statement, Lippold called his performance in the Central Committee election a “victory.”
“As someone who has not spent years entrenched inside the political system in Nevada, I am extremely encouraged, and more energized than ever by the level of support I have received from people throughout the district,” Lippold said. “My message of conservative leadership and putting an end to business as usual politics has clearly resonated.”
Philip Stutts, a strategist for Lippold’s campaign, was even more blunt.
“This is the craziest election scenario. We went from planning a June 2012 primary, to a September 2011 primary, to a 26-day primary in which the frontrunner had already been elected by this body, and Greg Brower had spent 13 years building relationships with republican party insiders,” Stutts said.
“Mark Amodei has already been elected state body chairman,” he said, and given that scenario, they had not expected a win. The Central Committee vote, he said, was about figuring out, “could we even be competitive for second place. And we were, against a guy who’s been in politics for 13 years in the state. We’re excited, we’re encouraged, and we plan to run again.”