CARSON CITY -- Gov. Brian Sandoval on Friday set Sept. 13 as the date for the special election in which 2nd Congressional District voters will pick a replacement for Rep. Dean Heller.
The governor picked the Northern Nevada Republican on Wednesday to replace U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., who resigned effective Tuesday.
As of late Friday, Sandoval still was working on paperwork needed by the secretary of the U.S. Senate before Heller can resign his House seat and be sworn in as a senator.
"With an election in early September, Nevada will have a full voice as the House begins its work this fall," Sandoval said in a statement.
Secretary of State Ross Miller plans Monday to announce the regulations for the special election. In its 147-year history, Nevada never has conducted a special election to fill a congressional vacancy.
The law states only that the governor will call a special election within 180 days from the time a vacancy occurs. There will be no primary.
Pam Dupre, a Miller spokeswoman, said the secretary of state will announce whether just one candidate selected by each major political party's hierarchy can run or that the election will be a free-for-all in which 10 or more Republicans and Democrats conceivably could be on the ballot.
Democrats favor a free-for-all election because it could lead to a Democrat winning if there were several Republicans on the ballot. A Democrat hasn't represented the 2nd Congressional District seat since its establishment in 1982.
The GOP prefers a party choice to block tea party favorite Sharron Angle from running and to avoid a crowded field that could cost them the seat.
At the end of March, there were 41,000 more registered Republicans in the district than Democrats.
The district consists of all of the state except for highly urbanized areas of Las Vegas and Clark County.
Eric Herzik, a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, expects Miller to decide that the Republican and Democrat party leaders each will select one candidate to run.
But he said the language in the law is ambiguous enough that Miller could decide on a free-for-all election. Such an election would appeal to voters, he said.
But Herzik said there are problems in election laws that probably will prompt legal challenges to whatever Miller decides. Both parties have prepared lawsuits that they could file if next week's announcement doesn't go their way.
One problem is that federal law requires ballots be printed and sent to overseas voters in the military at least 45 days before election day. But the state law on filling congressional vacancies allows minor parties to identify their candidates 32 to 46 days before the election.
There would not be time to print and mail ballots to service members if this section of the law applied, Herzik said.
"Expect lawsuits," he added. "The only thing I am pretty sure will happen is lawsuits."
On Friday, former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, R-Reno, appealed to supporters for contributions so she could win the special election.
Other probable Republican candidates for the seat include Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki; state Sen. Greg Brower of Reno; state Republican Chairman Mark Amodei of Carson City; and retired Navy Commander Kirk Lippold of Carson City.
Lippold was the commanding office of the USS Cole on Oct. 12, 2000, when it was attacked by al-Qaida terrorists at the port of Aden in Yemen. Seventeen sailors died in that attack.
Possible Democratic candidates include former state Democrat Party Chairwoman Jill Derby, who twice lost to Heller; state Treasurer Kate Marshall; and former Regent Nancy Price, who lost to Heller in November.
Earlier this week, Larry Lomax, the Clark County registrar of voters, estimated costs of the special election in his county could approach $100,000 though only 33,000 voters there would be eligible to vote.
Dan Burk, registrar of voters in Washoe County, put the cost there at $250,000 to $350,000 with 225,000 people eligible to vote.
Lorne Malkiewich, administrator of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said the current boundaries for the 2nd Congressional District would be used in determining which people can vote in the special election.
While legislators will redraw congressional district boundaries in redistricting hearings in May, the new districts map would not go into effect until after the November 2012 election, he said.
Nevada now has three seats in the House of Representatives and soon will have four. The fourth seat is being added because of population gains shown in the 2010 census, Malkiewich said.
Review-Journal reporter Laura Myers contributed to this report. Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3901.