Two potential Democratic candidates were also hoping to finish the session before making a decision on running, but they, too, will likely have to expedite the process. State Assemblywoman Debbie Smith and state Treasurer Kate Marshall, along with two-time former House candidate Jill Derby, are all in the mix as possible special election candidates.
"I think that there are very serious issues facing Nevada, and I'm giving it very serious consideration," Marshall told Roll Call. "It has been my view and it will continue to be my view that the district is absolutely winnable for a Democrat."
Smith was more circumspect when asked about the special election.
"I'm staying focused on my job at hand," she told Roll Call. "We'll wait to see how things shake out." Everyone in the state seems to be doing that as well. Bob Walsh, the deputy secretary for southern Nevada, said the secretary of state's office will not comment on a hypothetical situation, since there is no guarantee the seat will even come open. But in the meantime, the office is reviewing state law to determine how a replacement would be chosen if Heller is indeed appointed to the Senate.
"We're not going to start opining until we've had an opportunity to have a solid review of this stuff," he said. "The logistics of the law — both state and federal — makes this extremely complicated."
Republicans are hoping the secretary of state gives the parties the power to choose their candidates, avoiding the possibility of five Republicans running against one Democrat — giving Democrats a strong shot at picking up the Republican-leaning seat. A multi-candidate race would also boost Angle's prospects, several insiders said.
"I have to say that if it's a real free-for-all, I have to think Angle has some kind of advantage," Democratic consultant Billy Vassiliadis said. "She's probably got the most loyal base of everyone and just got done running a pretty competitive statewide race."
Angle also has a national fundraising base to tap, but she has few fans in the state party establishment. One top party source told Roll Call there was "no way" Angle would be selected as the nominee. She could, however, run as an Independent.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.