The filling period is about to begin for major political party candidates interested in running in Nevada's special election for the 2nd Congressional District seat. But filing doesn't guarantee a spot on the Sept. 13 ballot, because that decision remains with the Nevada Supreme Court.
Secretary of State Ross Miller said declarations of candidacy will be accepted beginning Wednesday through June 30.
Miller and the Democratic Party filed notices Tuesday with the Nevada Supreme Court challenging a lower court that ruled the Republican and Democratic central committees should choose their party nominee. The Supreme Court has agreed to expedite the case.
The secretary of state earlier said the special election would be a "ballot royale," open to anyone interested in the seat with the winner being whoever gets the most votes.
But the Republican Party sued, arguing major political parties should be able to pick their candidates, as they do when primaries are held to elect a nominee. The Democratic Party sided with the secretary of state.
Last week, 1st Judicial District Judge James Russell in Carson City agreed with the GOP. In a written order issued Monday, Russell called Miller's interpretation of the law "unreasonable and absurd."
While laws governing a special election for the House seat are ambiguous, they must be considered in context with general election statutes, the judge said.
"When this is done, in this instance, the result is that a major or minor political party designates its candidate to be placed on the special election ballot," Russell said.
If the high court upholds the lower court's ruling, Miller said his office will certify only the candidate chosen by the party to appear on the ballot. But if the ruling is overturned, the secretary of state will certify names to appear on the ballot based on his initial interpretation of how the special election should be handled - namely, a free-for-all.
Four Republicans - tea party-backed Sharron Angle, state GOP chairman Mark Amodei, a former state senator; state Sen. Greg Brower; and retired Navy Cmdr. Kirk Lippold - have announced their intent to run.
Democratic contenders include state Treasurer Kate Marshall; and Jill Derby and Nancy Price, both former university regents who ran against Heller and lost in the heavily Republican district.
The 2nd District seat became vacant May 9 when former Republican Rep. Dean Heller was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Gov. Brian Sandoval. Heller replaced disgraced Sen. John Ensign, who resigned in the aftermath of an extramarital affair with a staffer's wife and an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee.