Conservatives lose bid to ax Ashjian from Nov. 2 ballot

CARSON CITY -- Scott Ashjian's name will remain on Nov. 2 election ballot as the Tea Party of Nevada's candidate for the U.S. Senate, state Supreme Court justices unanimously decided Wednesday.

Their decision could help Democrat Harry Reid in his close re-election bid against Republican Sharron Angle, who has been endorsed and financially backed by the Tea Party movement.

Ashjian's party, which exists only in Nevada, has not been recognized by the national Tea Party.

He could not be reached for comment.

A new CNN/Time poll released Wednesday showed Ashjian would pick up 7 percent of the votes in a three-way match with Reid and Angle. Angle drew 42 percent, Reid, 40 percent and none-of-the above 10 percent.

In a-head-to-head race, Angle received 47 percent, compared with 45 percent with Reid. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. It did not consider several other minor- party candidates in the race.

The most recent Review-Journal poll found Ashjian drawing the support of 1 percent of respondents and Reid and Angle in a dead heat.

The Nevada justices decided that a lawsuit filed by conservative figures, including Chuck Muth and Debbie Landis, was moot because general election absentee ballots listing Ashjian's name have been sent and some have been returned.

They also noted that Secretary of State Ross Miller said voting machines have been programmed and must be tested by Oct. 15. Early voting will start the next day.

Justices said it was clear that even if they made a decision to strike Ashjian's name, it could not be made soon enough to change absentee ballots or reprogram voting machines.

Another lawsuit challenging Ashjian's candidacy is still before the high court. It was filed by the Independent American Party and its U.S. Senate candidate, Tim Fasano.

But the court appeared ready to dismiss his lawsuit, too. They issued an order Wednesday giving Fasano 10 days to respond as to why his lawsuit also should not be declared moot.

Fasano could not be reached. But Independent American Party Chairman John Wagner said the court should not keep Ashjian's name on the ballot.

Wagner said Ashjian committed "perjury" in March when he filed as the Tea Party candidate for the Senate.

Ashjian admitted he still was a registered Republican when he filed and did not change his party affiliation until later.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901. Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at or 202-783-1760.