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Nevada Secretary of State Appeals Ruling in Special Election

Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller (D) announced Friday he has decided to appeal a judge’s ruling that political parties will be allowed to choose their nominees in the 2nd district special election.

Carson City District Judge James Todd Russell ruled Thursday in favor of the state GOP, which went to court to argue that only candidates nominated by the parties’ central committees should be allowed to run in the Sept. 13 special election to fill now-Sen. Dean Heller’s (R) seat.

Miller had ruled earlier that the contest would be an all-party, winner-take-all election — a format he called a “battle royale.”

“I have asked the Attorney General’s office to appeal the First Judicial District Court’s May 19th ruling in the case Nevada Republican Party vs. State of Nevada to the Nevada Supreme Court,” Miller said in a statement Friday. “We are still awaiting the written order of the court and may have further statements once it is issued.”

The start of candidate filing will be postponed pending the court’s written order, Miller said.

Russell’s decision Thursday appears to give Nevada Republican Party Chairman Mark Amodei the inside track to becoming the GOP nominee. It also deals a major blow to former Senate candidate Sharron Angle, who has already announced she is seeking the 2nd district seat. Angle, who lost to Sen. Harry Reid (D) in 2010, does not have strong support within the state party apparatus and it has been made clear that GOP leaders would not pick her as their nominee.

Amodei, as the state party chairman, has close relationships with the central committee members who will pick the nominee. In addition to Amodei and Angle, retired Navy Cmdr. Kirk Lippold and state Sen. Greg Brower are also running as Republicans in the special election.

Among Democrats, state Treasurer Kate Marshall is viewed as the strongest contender and becomes the favorite to be tapped by party leaders. Former House candidates Jill Derby and Nancy Price are the other Democrats running in the special.

Heller, who was first elected to the House in 2006, was appointed to succeed Sen. John Ensign (R), who resigned earlier this month.

Melanie Starkey contributed to this report.