Nevada GOP sues over special election rules

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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The Nevada Republican Party today filed suit against Nevada’s secretary of state over the rules for the special election to fill the now vacant congressional seat in the state’s second district. The suit seeks to prevent Secretary of State Ross Miller from placing any candidate on the ballot who has not been nominated by his or her party. Miller announced earlier this week that the election would be a ‘free-for-all’ in which any candidate who wished to run need only file a petition with Miller’s office.

“We believe that Nevada’s election law and tradition clearly ensure major party central committees are the nominating body for their own candidates,” said Mari Nakashima, the press secretary for the Nevada GOP. “We are fighting for a fair election and constitutional rights of association, in compliance with Nevada law and the U.S. Constitution.”

Nevada political columnist Jon Ralston wrote, “The suit, posted at right, should forever be known as The Stop Sharron Angle Lawsuit,” referring to the fact that a ‘free-for-all’ special election is considered likely to benefit Democrats by splitting the Republican field among numerous candidates, most notably Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle, and someone more properly vetted by the establishment.

Nakashima denied that the suit was politically motivated.

“Whether it is politically expedient or popular is not the issue,” she said, “the Nevada Republican Party is willing to take the necessary steps to stand up for the rights of all Nevadans in the interest of protecting the integrity of our election process.”

The lawsuit does not come as a surprise. In the press conference Monday when he announced the rules, Miller said he expected a lawsuit from whichever side felt it had been put at a disadvantage by his interpretation of the rules governing a special election. He noted, however, that there was limited time for a suit to be resolved in court due to the fast time line on which a special election is run. The Nevada GOP seems to have heeded that warning, filing its lawsuit just three days after Miller’s announcement.

The special election is being held to replace Rep. Dean Heller, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval to fill the Senate seat vacated by Republican John Ensign, who resigned in April. The election is expected to take place mid-September.