Nevada attorney general’s office to appeal special election ruling

The Republican Party would suffer irreparable harm if an unlimited number of candidates were allowed to run for the 2nd Congressional District seat left vacant by Dean Heller’s move to the Senate.

So stated Carson City District Judge Todd Russell in a written ruling released Monday. He announced his decision Thursday.

Russell was critical of Secretary of State Ross Miller’s attorneys who argued for a "free-for-all" special election, saying reliance upon a single sentence contained in an entire law "produces an unreasonable and absurd result."

The judge also accused the secretary of state, a Democrat, of essentially cherry picking different portions of the general election law to support his interpretation.

"As such, had this court allowed the Secretary of State’s interpretation to stand, plaintiffs’ would suffer irreparable harm," Russell’s ruling stated.

Lawyers for the Nevada attorney general filed court papers with the state Supreme Court on Monday indicating that they plan to appeal the ruling that limits who can run to replace Republican Heller in the House.

"We really can’t comment on what our arguments are going to be at this point," Deputy Attorney General Kevin Benson said.

The high court has been asked to expedite its decision on the unique election issue that could ensure that a Republican wins the 2nd District seat — as it always has — or make it possible for a Democrat to get the job.

A decision favoring Democrats could give them more power in the House, which is controlled by Republicans.

In accordance with the ruling, and deciding not to wait for the high court’s decision, Miller said the candidate filing period to fill Heller’s seat will begin at 8 a.m. Wednesday and end June 30.

Never in the state’s 147-year history has one of its representatives in the House needed to be replaced mid-term.

Miller in his announcement encouraged any interested individuals, whether they are independent or are linked to a minor party, to call 775-684-5705 to schedule an appointment to file their declarations. A photo identification and proof of physical residency will be required. There is no filing fee.

Republicans and Democrats plan to wait. The Republican Central Committee is expected to decide at a meeting June 18 and the Democratic Central Committee tentatively June 25.

The 2nd Congressional District, which encompasses all of Nevada except for the metropolitan area of Clark County, boasts roughly 40,000 more Republicans than Democrats.

Heller resigned from the House to fill the Senate vacancy left by former Sen. John Ensign, who left the upper house in disgrace after marital infidelities and what critics said was a cover-up.

Contact reporter Doug McMurdo at dmcmurdo@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512.

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