A way to quickly replace Congressmen in the event of a terrorist attack or give Democrats a Nevada Republican stronghold?

by Kaitan Gupta

In the world of battleground elections, Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District never received much attention nor should it have.  Since its creation after the 1980 census, it has always been represented by a Republican.  1992 was the only time the Republican candidate did not receive more than 50% of the vote and yet that year Republican Congressman Vucanovich still won the election by more than 12,000 votes/4 points.  The Democrats thought they were closing the gap in the District in 2008 when Senator McCain only won the District by 88 votes, but popular Congressman Dean Heller proved too popular in this conservative District where he widened his “narrow” 12,575 vote/5 point win in 2006 to a 44,000 vote/10 point win in 2008 and a 82,000/30 point win in 2010.  But Democrats attempt at winning this District (which in the past was seen as futile) would get new life thanks to a Republican’s sex scandal, the Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, and a Navy war hero.

In May 2011, Senator John Ensign announced his resignation due to an ethics investigation surrounding his extramarital affair with the wife of one of his aids.  Governor Sandoval promptly appointed Dean Heller to fill the rest of Senator Ensign’s term and ordered a special election to be held on September 13, 2011 to elect a new representative for Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District.  But it was Secretary of State Ross Miller’s announcement of how this special election would be run that gave Democrats a chance of winning this Republican stronghold.  One week prior to Governor Sandoval’s announcement, Secretary Miller issued his interpretation of NRS 304.200, the law governing special elections.  He announced that major party candidates could self-nominate and place themselves on the ballot as a major political party candidate whether or not the major political party approved.  Secretary Miller based this interpretation on NRS 304’s language that “no primary election may be held.”   This meant the election would be a free for all and more than 30 candidates were expected to be on the ballotDemocrats expected many Republicans would file as compared to only a few Democrats making it much easier to elect a Democrat. Continue reading