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Nevada Assemblywoman Debbie Smith (D) announced Monday that she would not run in a special election to replace Rep. Dean Heller (R) should he be appointed to fill the remainder of Republican Sen. John Ensign’s term.

With the state Legislature in session until June, Smith said it is her responsibility to remain focused on fighting for public education funding in Nevada, and therefore she will remain in the state House, where she is chairwoman of the Ways and Means Committee.

“I can think of no better place to fight that fight than with my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate and from my position in Assembly leadership,” she said in a statement. “Therefore, contrary to media speculation, I will not be a candidate in any special election for the 2nd Congressional District.”

The Las Vegas Sun’s Jon Ralston first reported Monday that Smith would not run.

Most political observers in the state expect Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) to choose Heller to succeed Ensign, who is retiring effective May 3. That would open up Heller’s expansive 2nd district and require a special election within the next six months. This would be the first time the state has had to fill a vacant House seat, and the secretary of state’s office is still working to decide the rules for a special election.

Without Smith running, state Treasurer Kate Marshall would appear to have the inside track on the Democratic side. Marshall told Roll Call on Friday that she is “giving it very serious consideration.” Also mentioned as a possible candidate is Jill Derby, who has run for the seat twice before.

Several Republicans, including 2010 Senate candidate Sharron Angle, retired Navy Cmdr. Kirk Lippold and state Sen. Greg Brower are already running for the seat, and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki and state GOP Chairman Mark Amodei are strongly considering it.

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