LAS VEGAS (AP) - Nevada's first special election to fill a House seat could be delayed because of a legal tussle over the contest rules.
The Nevada Supreme Court issued an order Tuesday directing the Nevada Democratic Party, the Nevada Republican Party and Secretary of State Ross Miller to address whether the September special election can be rescheduled. The political parties and Miller disagree on the rules of the contest to fill the seat left vacant when Republican Dean Heller was appointed to the U.S. Senate.
Miller initially announced the election was open to all. Republicans challenged his interpretation of the
never-before-tested election law, and a state judge ultimately sided with the GOP claim that political parties should name candidates in the no primary contest.
Miller appealed the ruling last week with the Democrat's backing.
The looming election date doesn't give the Nevada Supreme Court much time to come up with an answer, court officials said.
"We are concerned that the time constraints presented by this appeal provide significant challenges to this court's ability to provide a thoughtful and considered review of the important issues and questions of public policy that may be at stake," the court order reads.
The order notes Gov. Brian Sandoval could have scheduled the election up to 180 days after Heller's resignation from the House. Sandoval chose Sept. 13, placing the election date a mere 127 days after his announcement that Heller would join the Senate.
The order directs the major political parties and Miller to weigh in on the legality of a new election date by Monday. State statute requires that the election be held as soon as "practicable" and the court order suggests the Sept. 13 date might not meet that demand given the legal battle.
If the Supreme Court upholds the lower court's decision, the major political parties will name general election contenders. If the lower court is reversed, all candidates who legally file to run will compete in the general election, with the person receiving the most votes winning the title through the end of 2012.
The regular election for the post will be held that year.
More than 20 hopefuls have entered the special election contest.
State Sen. Greg Brower of Reno, former state GOP Chairman Mark Amodei and retired Navy Cmdr. Kirk Lippold are among the Republicans vying for the job. Former university regent Nancy Price and state Treasurer Kate Marshall represent the Democrat's best hopes of winning the Republican-leaning district.
Most of the filed candidates have little to no political experience or name recognition.
The candidate filing deadline is June 30.