LAS VEGAS - Roughly 350 Republican leaders will decide the GOP nominee for Nevada's special election to fill a vacant House seat, the Nevada Republican Party told its members.
All members of the state GOP central committee can vote on the nominee when the party meets in Reno later this month.
The announcement late Thursday means party leaders who don't live in the northern Nevada House district and can't vote in the Sept. 13 election will have a say in who is listed on the ballot.
The nominating process will not be limited to the 16 Republicans who have already filed to run for the seat, or necessarily even include all of those would-be candidates.
Instead, party rules state that any Republican who receives at least two votes from state central committee members during the meeting can compete in the nomination process.
Once the contenders have been chosen, the committee will vote. The candidate who wins a majority of the votes will become the nominee. If no candidates secure a majority, central committee members will take another vote to decide between the two top vote-getters.
Whether the party's decision will stand is in dispute.
Nevada has never held a special election to fill a vacant House seat. State officials initially said the no primary contest would unfold as an open election, with the highest vote-getter winning the seat. Under those rules, 30 candidates filed to run for the job, including a handful of Republicans and Democrats.
The GOP sued, claiming the open process ignores the role political parties traditionally play in elections. In most Nevada elections, party members decide the general election candidate in a primary.
A lower court agreed with the GOP, but that ruling has been appealed and is under review by the Nevada Supreme Court.
That court won't make a decision until after the Democrats and Republicans have chosen their nominees.
If the high court rules in favor of the open contest, all candidates who filed to enter the race, not just the candidates nominated by the parties, will appear on the ballot.
Republicans will also elect a new chairman during the state GOP meeting on June 18. Former chairman Mark Amodei is among several high-profile Republicans who have filed to run for the House seat recently vacated by Republican Dean Heller when Heller moved to the U.S. Senate.
The Democratic Party is still deciding how its roughly 580 state central committee members will select their nominee during its statewide meeting in Reno on June 25.