Calling the planned special election "illegitimate," Sharron Angle said Wednesday that she will not be a candidate in the September race to fill a vacant congressional seat in Nevada.
After the state's governor called for the vote last month, Secretary of State Ross Miller established rules that allowed any and all eligible candidates to file to appear on the ballot, regardless of party, which added some uncertainty to the fall race. Republicans who fear an Angle candidacy under such rules are challenging them in court, seeking the ability for each major party to nominate their own candidate instead.
Angle's announcement comes on the first day candidates were able to file for the ballot. She blamed an uncertain process that "disenfranchises the electorate."
"I do not have any desire to participate in a process described by others as a 'ballot royale' or a situation where the party central committees choose their nominees because it makes a mockery of the most important constitutional element in exercising freedom," Angle said in a statement. "The longer this drags out, the more it will become a contest of bank accounts and negative campaigning based on personal attacks instead of the important issues that face Nevada and our country."
Angle was the surprise winner of the 2010 Republican primary to determine the challenger for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who was considered vulnerable in his reelection bid. Though she had strong support from "tea party" activists, Angle's bumbling general election campaign enabled Reid to post a surprisingly comfortable victory in November.
Months after her defeat, Angle announced she would run in 2012 for the 2nd Congressional District seat held by then-Rep. Dean Heller, a Republican, who was planning to run for Nevada's other Senate seat. When incumbent Sen. John Ensign abruptly resigned, Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval appointed Heller to replace him in the Senate, which then triggered a special election to fill Heller's seat in the interim.
It is unclear whether Angle would still run in the regular 2012 congressional election. She said in the statement that she's "not ruling out a future run for office," and would make "additional announcements soon detailing my plans."
Though the 2nd District as it's currently constituted traditionally leans Republican, Democrats think they may be able to ride current opposition to the House GOP's plan to overhaul Medicare to another win, as they did Tuesday in New York's 26th Congressional District.
Through midafternoon Wednesday, nine candidates had filed to get on the ballot -- five Republicans, three Democrats and one independent. The filing period runs through June 30. The State Supreme Court has agreed to expedite its hearing of the GOP lawsuit on the rules for the Sept. 13 vote.