by Elizabeth Crum, Nevada News Bureau: Former Republican Party of Nevada Chairman Mark Amodei yesterday blew out the competition and became his party’s nominee for the 2nd congressional district special election on Sept. 13.
Amodei needed 162 of 323 member votes to win. He pulled in 221 votes compared to state Sen. Greg Brower who earned 56 votes and retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. Kirk Lippold who received 46 votes.
It now remains to be seen whether the party’s nomination will stay in effect through the general election. The state Supreme Court could effectively invalidate the nomination if it rules in favor of a so-called free-for-all among the more than two dozen candidates who have so far filed with the Secretary of State.
The initial decision to hold an open ballot election was made by Secretary of State Ross Miller, who interpreted state statutes to say that no primary election should be held in a special election for Congress.
But Republicans argued that state statutes say it is up to the political parties to nominate candidates. District Court Judge James T. Russell ruled in their favor, however Miller and the Nevada Democratic Party quickly appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Amodei, who served in the state Legislature prior to his time as chairman of the state Republican party, touted his non-government work experience to the delegates gathered at the meeting.
“Twenty-four years in the private sector; that’s how I earned my living as I stand here before you today,” he said.
“I have fourteen years legislative experience, but I am not going to belabor that,” he added.
Amodei seemed relaxed and confident throughout the morning.
“I am comfortable with the fact that you folks have done your homework,” he said near the end of his speech.
Carol Howell, a delegate and northern Nevada conservative activist, asked the candidates if they would agree to honor the central committee vote and support the winner should the state Supreme Court rule in favor of a free-wheeling “ballot royale.”
Both Brower and Amodei said they would support the winner. Lippold said he would stay in the race regardless, and would also run for the seat in 2012.
Brower tried to win support by presenting strongly worded conservative policy positions, talking about his experience both as a former naval officer and U.S. Attorney, painting himself as a devoted father and husband and promising to quickly raise a large amount of campaign money if nominated.
“I will commit to you that in the first 30 days of this race, I can raise $500,000,” said Brower confidently.
In answer to a question about the current size of his campaign coffers, however, Brower acknowledged he had a big hill to climb.
“I got into this late because I was working in Carson city to balance the budget. I am really behind in the fundraising effort,” he said.
Brower was the only candidate to name his party’s potential opposition by name.
“If you like Obama and Reid and Pelosi, you’re going to love Kate Marshall,” he quipped to laughter and applause.
Brower was visibly shocked after the vote tallies were announced, but said he thought it was important for the party to get behind a single candidate. He was not specific about what kind of support he would personally offer to Amodei, though.
“We’ll see. Whatever… I’ll do whatever I can,” said Brower with a strained smile.
In contrast, Lippold was cheerful in the face of defeat and vowed to fight on, saying he was honored to be part of the process.
“To think that I was able to in six weeks come from zero to be able to stand on the stage with guys who have been here in the state for a decade working and to get the level and groundswell of support that I had today, I’m absolutely touched and honored and just grateful for the central committee and the hard work they did,” Lippold said.
Amodei spoke to the press informally for a few minutes after the results were announced. In answer to questions about his chances in the election, Amodei said he did not think a Republican win was a foregone conclusion.
“I think if you look at the district and you study the voting results, 72 months ago Jill Derby beat Dean Heller by 4,000 votes in Washoe County. If that’s not a wake-up call–” Amodei said, acknowledging that hard work will be necessary to pull off a win.
The state Supreme Court is expected to hear the special election case on June 28.
Post-election video interviews: