Sharron Angle, who lost last fall to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, was planning to run for Rep. Dean Heller’s seat when the Republican congressman ran for Senate next year. Now that Ensign is stepping down, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) is likely to appoint Heller to the Senate. That means a special election for his House seat. Depending on how the election law is interpreted, things look better or worse for Angle.
If Sandoval appoints Heller, he must call for a special election in 180 days. The law could be used to call for a free-for-all election in which candidates from all parties compete. That favors Angle, who has wide name recognition and who carried the district in her Senate campaign. However, it could also be used to call for a party nomination process followed by an election. If party committees pick the candidates, Angle has far less of a chance.
The law dates back to 2003 and has never been tested. Secretary of State Ross Miller is the one in charge — he’s a Democrat. Miller says that it’s an “unprecedented situation,” but until the governor announces his appointee for the Senate seat, it’s also a hypothetical one. His office will make a decision once Sandoval makes his appointment.