Saturday, June 25, 2011 | 3:02 p.m.
State Treasurer Kate Marshall easily won her party’s nomination Saturday in the special election race for U.S. Sen. Dean Heller’s former congressional seat.
Marshall vied against two other Democrats, political newcomers, for the nomination of the Nevada Democratic Party’s central committee at its meeting in Reno. Former regent Nancy Price, who ran unsuccessfully for the seat last year, dropped out of the running for the nomination on Friday.
Marshall won 117 of the 122 votes cast by the central committee.
The nomination sets up a potential head-to-head between Marshall and Republican former state Sen. Mark Amodei, of Carson City, to serve the remainder of Heller’s term in the 2nd Congressional District, a sprawling district that covers all of northern Nevada and includes a slice of Clark County.
Although both parties have nominated candidates, it will be up to the Nevada Supreme Court to decide whether it is Amodei vs. Marshall or an open ballot free-for-all that includes all 29 candidates who have filed with the Secretary of State to run in the Sept. 13 election.
Secretary of State Ross Miller favors an open ballot, but the Nevada Republican Party filed a lawsuit claiming each party has the right to choose its nominee. Under state law, no primary election is held to fill a vacant congressional seat mid-term.
The supreme court will hear the case Tuesday.
Democrats saw an opportunity in the free-for-all format to pick up the heavily Republican district, assuming multiple Republican candidates file and split the vote.
After Amodei won the Republican nomination last week, state Sen. Greg Brower dropped out of the race, bowing to the party’s wishes to support a single candidate if the court backs an open ballot.
Retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. Kirk Lippold, a Republican, continues to campaign for the seat.