Sandoval won’t comply with legislative call for open Senate appointment process
CARSON CITY, Nev. – A senior adviser to Gov. Brian Sandoval made it clear Monday the governor alone will decide who to name as U.S. Senator when John Ensign leaves the post May 3.
Dale Erquiaga said the concurrent resolution by members of the 2011 Legislature calling for a public process is “not relevant to the current decision.”
He said the law and history leave the decision to the governor.
“The law and tradition are clear it is an executive decision,” he said.
Ensign has resigned effective that date in the wake of a year-long running scandal centering on his extra-marital affair with the wife of his best friend and former senior staffer. Ensign was under investigation by both the justice department and Senate Ethics Committee over his alleged efforts to cover up and conceal the affair.
Following his decision to resign rather than serve the remaining 18 months of his term, the Ethics Committee issued a terse statement saying he had done the right thing.
Erquiaga said Sandoval will name “someone who can do the job of a United States Senator and is similar in ideology to Senator Ensign.”
“It would not be appropriate to appoint some one of a different party or ideology,” he said.
The Assembly approved the resolution asking instead for Sandoval to accept applications for the U.S. Senate post and receive public comment before appointing someone.
Erquiaga said the governor’s decision on the Senate post will be based on the best choice and not influenced by the fact naming Heller would require a costly special election.
Republicans at both ends of the building opposed the resolution saying they have faith in Sandoval to select a good appointee.
While the administration has refused to say so, Rep. Dean Heller, R-NV, who has already announced he will seek Ensign’s seat next year, is the odds on favorite to get the appointment. Heller was endorsed by Sandoval almost immediately after announcing his intentions and the two are ideologically aligned on nearly all major issues.
Naming Heller would make necessary a special election to fill his vacated seat in the House. Under Nevada law, that election must be held within 180 days of Heller’s leaving the post but there has been some debate over whether that election is an open free-for-all with any qualified candidate able to run or limited to party nominees.
Sharron Angle, Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, and Ed Hamilton have all announced they will seek the position.