Nevada Republican Party Chairman Mark Amodei said Wednesday he is preparing to jump into the race to replace Rep. Dean Heller as soon as next month.
Amodei also said state Sen. Greg Brower called him Wednesday as a courtesy to tell him he was planning to run for the U.S. House seat as well.
"He was notifying me as party chairman, and he said, 'I just want you to know I'm getting into the race,' " Amodei said. "I think the call was a way of telling me, 'I want to get in and you don't have to.' "
Brower on Wednesday wouldn't talk about his plans or his phone call with Amodei. But a person familiar with Brower's thinking said the former U.S. attorney in Nevada is moving closer to a decision.
Amodei's and Brower's entries into the House race would make the GOP primary highly competitive as Republicans battle to win the GOP-friendly seat.
Sharron Angle, who lost the 2010 U.S. Senate race to U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, was the first to announce she was running to replace Heller.
Former USS Cole commander Kirk Lippold got into the contest last week.
Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, considered a GOP establishment favorite, said he would wait until after the end of the Nevada legislative session in June to announce whether he would run for Heller's 2nd Congressional District seat covering all of Northern and rural Nevada and parts of Clark County.
The three-term Heller is running for the U.S. Senate of retiring Sen. John Ensign.
Amodei, who dropped out of the GOP 2010 Senate primary, said he probably would quit as chairman of the state GOP to enter the House race by May. That would give him two months of fundraising before campaign finance reports are due at the end of the second quarter. Amodei said he is setting a $100,000 target.
Brower was appointed this year to complete the four-year term of Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, who retired. Brower has made a big push lately to clean up campaign contribution and reporting rules in the wake of a scandal over online poker companies trying to make inroads in Nevada.
Brower sought an investigation into PokerStars' political activities over the weekend and pressed Secretary of State Ross Miller to further the investigation.
The founders of PokerStars were among 11 individuals charged with bank fraud, money laundering and operating illegal gambling businesses in a nine-count federal indictment unsealed Friday in New York. The U.S. Department of Justice seized and shut down the American operations for PokerStars and two other online gambling companies, FullTilt Poker and Absolute Poker.
In a letter Monday, Brower asked Miller whether PokerStars had violated Nevada law with respect to recently reported campaign contributions and lobbying activities.
Brower said federal law prohibits foreign contributions to federal, state and local campaigns. He plans to develop a bill that would put into state law a specific prohibition on foreign contributions, similar to the federal law.
PokerStars, which has its headquarters on the Isle of Man, a British dependency, contributed to 68 legislative candidates, constitutional officers, political party PACs and legislative caucuses. The contributions, made between Sept. 23 and Oct. 18, ranged from $1,000 to $10,000.
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