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December 20, 2014

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Early voting shows GOP surge in House race

Republican voters are trouncing their Democratic counterparts at the polls in Nevada's House special election.

More than 40,000 Republicans cast ballots during the two-week early voting period that ended Friday. That's a large swath of the 75,000 votes cast for the 2nd Congressional District seat. Democrats made up 25,600 of those votes.

The turnout could mean an easy win for Republican hopeful Mark Amodei on Tuesday. The former state senator and Nevada GOP chairman is running against Democrat Kate Marshall in a largely Republican district that has never elected a Democrat.

Also on the ballot are Tim Fasano, the Independent American Party candidate, and Helmuth Lehmann, an independent businessman who gathered signatures to get on the ballot.

Marshall, the state treasurer, scrambled to close the gap over the weekend. She urged supporters to donate to her campaign to support get-out-the-vote efforts as she reminded Nevadans to vote.

"This is the crunch time so I really need to you to dig in your heels and fight for me today," Marshall wrote in a campaign email Monday.

The special election will fill a vacancy created when Republican Dean Heller was promoted from the House to the Senate in May to replace Republican John Ensign. Ensign resigned over a sex scandal involving a former staffer.

The winner will serve the remainder of Heller's term and must seek re-election in 2012 to keep the seat.

The race is Nevada's first House special election race, and the initial uncertainty surrounding the rules of the race gave Democrats hope that they could make history by taking the traditionally GOP seat.

The state's chief election officer originally ruled that the race would be a free-for-all, and at one point, more than 30 candidates were expected to enter the open contest. The Nevada Supreme Court ultimately said that major political parties should choose their candidate.

Marshall and Amodei beat out other candidates to win their party nominations.

The sprawling congressional district snakes across Nevada, covering the state's rural northern half and some of populous Clark County in the south. Republicans hold a 32,000-vote registration edge in the district that includes Reno.

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