Some clowns don’t make me laugh

My favorite part of the circus as a child was always the clown car driving around in circles to the tune of the calliope, clown after clown emerging from the tiny machine. The clowns seemed to delight in bumping into each other, running in circles and eliciting shrieks of laughter from the crowd. Just how did they manage to fit so many clowns into such a tiny little car? It’s truly a riddle for the ages.

This is the image I have in my head when I think of the upcoming special election to fill the congressional seat formerly occupied by Sen. Dean Heller. An election so queasily special that Secretary of State Ross Miller flippantly coined the term “ballot royale” to describe it. Many members of the media have affectionately called it a “free-for-all” which visibly grates on Miller, but they couldn’t be more right. Democrat Ross Miller has set up a special election where anyone can run without having to pay a filing fee, candidates can switch parties and file to run for office on the very same day, and let’s not forget that one doesn’t have to reside in a congressional district to run for it.

Miller insists he’s made the right decision in interpreting the law, and he knows full well that although the Republican Party’s challenge has merit, precedent to back it up and a long shot at prevailing, he also knows that these laws were intentionally penned to be open to interpretation.

Welcome to electoral chaos, ladies and gentlemen. Anyone can run, which means anyone will. Every Tom, Dick and She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named can waltz into the registrar’s office and get a place on the ballot. You want a neat story to tell your grandkids? Run for Congress. Want to feed a narcissistic fantasy? Just file! It won’t cost you a red cent. Primary voters will not have the ability to weed out the D-listers and the crazies, so after candidate filing closes May 25, we will know what our ballot is going to look like, and it won’t be pretty.

The Republican Party has done a pretty good job recruiting clean, electable candidates, and the field got even more crowded the other day when Mark Amodei jumped into the fray. I like Amodei well enough, and I know he would be a good candidate, a contender against the Democrats and potentially a fine congressman. I also like state Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, for the same reasons. The man has done some great things for Nevada, and I greeted his candidacy with a smile rather than my typical eye roll. Finally! I have a choice between two well qualified, reasonable and electable candidates. It’s about time.

Whoa, Nelly, not so fast! This is where things start getting interesting. You don’t need Miss Cleo to tell you that She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and her minions will be out en masse beating their quasi-Libertarian tom toms. Although I’m sure her base has dwindled to only those who buy heavy duty tinfoil, this election will be won or lost by a very small number of votes and believe me, they can make a difference. Democrat Kate Marshall is banking on it.

This is a special election in a non-election year to replace a Republican in a Republican district, and there are no political celebrities in the race. It’s not going to be a huge draw, so it’s anyone’s game. This is precisely why it’s so important for the Republicans to not fracture the vote. Under these circumstances, anyone with any kind of a political base will sway the percentages dramatically. There are only 31,000 more Republicans in this district, and if the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee can keep it to just one top tier Democrat, then this one could get ugly for the GOP.