Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) announced Friday that he intends to call a special election in the state's 2nd Congressional District to be held on September 13, 2011.
"With an election in early September, Nevada will have a full voice as the House begins its work this fall," Sandoval said in a statement.
Earlier this week, Sandoval announced his intention to appoint Rep. Dean Heller (R) to serve the remainder of embattled Sen. John Ensign's (R) term. Heller's upcoming departure will trigger the special election. Ensign, who was under investigation by a Senate Ethics Committee over his conduct in an affair with a married aide, announced last week that he will resign on May 3.
Special election protocol remains unclear. The state could hold a free-for-all election for all candidates, or allow the state party committees to choose their nominees. This will be the first House special election in state history and the law is murky. On Monday morning in Carson City, Secretary of State Ross Miller (D), who determines procedure, will announce his interpretation.
Heller was already a Senate candidate before Ensign announced his May 3 resignation, and there was already an active GOP primary underway for his House seat. 2010 Senate nominee Sharron Angle
(R), retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. Kirk Lippold
(R), and state Sen. Greg Brower
(R) have announced that they will run to replace Heller. Two other potential heavyweight candidates are also mulling bids -- Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki
(R) and state GOP chair Mark Amodei
(R). A Krolicki adviser has said the lt. gov. will have an announcement on the race, one way or the other, early next week.
For Republicans, leaving the nomination process to the state party committees would likely give Krolicki and Amodei -- two establishment Republicans -- the inside track to the nomination. A free-for-all, with the potential for vote splitting, could open things up for Angle. Speculation swirled over the possibility that Angle could run as an independent or third party candidate if the state party committees decide the nominee and she is not chosen. But Angle said she intends to pursue the seat as a Republican.
Angle appeared to be gearing up for a special election contest Friday, as she sent out a fundraising email saying "a Special Election must take place in the next 180 days. I must begin to raise money immediately if Republicans intend to hold this seat."
On the Democratic side, former Nevada Democratic Chairman Jill Derby
, who has lost twice before to Heller, said she is running for his seat. State Treasurer Kate Marshall
is also considering a bid.
The 2nd District leans Republican, although Sen. John McCain
(R-Ariz.) barely won there in 2008, beating then-Sen. Obama
by only 89 votes.
Updated at 7:45 p.m.