Published Saturday, June 18, 2011 | 12:57 p.m.
Updated Saturday, June 18, 2011 | 1:24 p.m.
In a decisive victory, former Nevada Republican Chairman Mark Amodei today won the party’s nomination for the Sept. 13 special election for U.S. Sen. Dean Heller’s old congressional seat.
In only one round of balloting, Amodei swept 221 of the 323 votes cast by members of the state GOP central committee, beating two other nominees, state Sen. Greg Brower and retired U.S. Navy Commander Kirk Lippold.
Amodei officially resigned as chairman of the party late last month.
"I will do my level best to make your decision here today look like a smart one," Amodei said, moments after the election.
Amodei easily won the GOP nomination, but whether the election will pit one Republican against one Democrat or will see a free-for-all among the 28 candidates who have already filed to run remains in the hands of the Nevada Supreme Court.
Despite the potential for a ballot royale, Republican party loyalists at today's central committee meeting hoped their vote would throw the party's support behind one Republican.
Indeed, Brower promised he would drop from the race following the committee's vote.
"As I said, it's important that everybody support the nominee," he said shortly after the vote. "It's important the party gets behind one candidate."
Despite a flurry of campaigning among central committee members following the close of the legislative session, Brower won just 56 votes. Lippold took 46. Lippold said he will continue to campaign for the seat.
Amodei denied he had any special advantage from his tenure as party chairman.
"I don't think this vote is a reflection of that," he said. "I don't take these people for granted."
Although only three Republicans won a nomination to compete for the state party's nod, 15 Republicans have filed with the Secretary of State to compete in an open election.
The Nevada Republican Party is leading the legal fight against Secretary of State Ross Miller's decision to run an open ballot.
Under state law, no primary election can be held in a special election for Congress. But the GOP argues it remains the responsibility of the political parties to choose nominees. Carson City District Judge James T. Russell agreed.
Miller and the Nevada Democratic Party have appealed his decision. A hearing is set for June 28.
Nevada Democrats meet June 25 to choose a nominee. Although nine Democrats have filed to run, the party establishment has lined up behind state Treasurer Kate Marshall.
Democrats are hoping a free-for-all ballot would boost the party's chances of taking the heavily Republican district for the first time since it was created.