Appeal will challenge ruling on special election

May 21, 2011


CARSON CITY — The Nevada Supreme Court will quickly hear Secretary of State Ross Miller’s planned appeal of a judge’s decision to let political parties pick U.S. House nominees for a Sept. 13 special election, a court spokesman said Friday.

As expected, Miller on Friday asked the attorney general to file the appeal. He also postponed the candidate filing period, which had been scheduled for Monday through Wednesday in Carson City.

The special election was called to replace former 2nd Congressional District Rep. Dean Heller, a Republican. He was appointed to complete the term of U.S. Sen. John Ensign, who resigned amid scandal. On May 5, Miller set the rules for the special election, saying it would be open to all major party candidates, minor party nominees and independents who could collect 100 signatures of registered voters.

The Nevada Republican Party sued Miller, objecting to a free-for-all contest that would crowd the ballot and hurt the party’s chances of holding the district. It covers all of rural and Northern Nevada and a bit of Clark County, and has always been in GOP hands.

The Republicans contend Nevada law requires political parties to hold central committee meetings to nominate one candidate each to put on the ballot since there’s no primary in the special election.

On Thursday, 1st District Judge James Todd Russell sided with the GOP and against the Democratic Party, which helped defend Miller’s rules. Russell enjoined the secretary of state from moving ahead with his plan to open up the ballot to all comers. And the judge gave the parties until June 30 to nominate one candidate each for the ballot.

The judge ruled from the bench and planned to release a formal written ruling quickly.

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