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Nevada High Court Rules Against Battle Royal

Nevada state party leaders can choose their candidates in the Sept. 13 special election for the 2nd district, the state Supreme Court ruled late Tuesday.

At issue was how many candidates could run under a major party label. Because the state does not call for a primary in a special election, the inclusion of multiple Republicans on the ballot could have weakened the party’s attempt to retain the seat in the GOP-leaning district. Republicans successfully argued in a lower court that without a primary, the parties’ central committees should have the power to nominate a single candidate.

The state of Nevada and the state Democratic Party appealed that ruling to the state Supreme Court, arguing that state law gives no such authority and that candidates may run under whatever party they please.

The state Supreme Court’s decision came the day before the deadline set by Secretary of State Ross Miller (D) for finalizing candidates. Miller said the candidates would need to be decided by Wednesday so the state’s vendors could begin printing ballots.

Miller had originally ruled that the contest would be an all-party, winner-take-all election — a format he called a battle royal.

Miller thanked the Supreme Court justices Tuesday for expediting the case and for their “well-reasoned opinion.”

“Throughout the proceedings in the District Court and the Supreme Court, there has been much discussion about the lack of a legislative history and the perceived ambiguity in the law that led to my interpretation clarifying how to conduct a special election in these circumstances,” he said in a statement. “I fully respect the Supreme Court’s decision and will conduct the special election accordingly.”

Both parties have already determined their nominees. Republican Mark Amodei will face Democrat Kate Marshall in the contest for the seat formerly held by Republican Dean Heller, who is filling the remainder of Republican John Ensign’s Senate term.

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