LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada judge on Thursday allowed voters to remove their signatures from petitions seeking recalls of two Democratic lawmakers, possibly dooming a controversial Republican effort to flip the state Senate to GOP control.
Republicans last year circulated petitions to recall state Sens. Nicole Cannizzaro and Joyce Woodhouse and appeared to narrowly obtain enough signatures to place the elections on the ballot. No official reason was given for the recalls, and some conservatives were open about hoping Republicans gain partisan advantage.
Some feared that if the effort went forward, it could undermine elections across the U.S. and lead the losing party to turn to recalls to keep control of influential statehouses.
Nevada Democrats contacted some voters who signed the recall petitions and convinced them to withdraw their names, which would likely drop the petitions below the minimum threshold to qualify for the ballot.
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The GOP sued, and Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison personally argued last month in court that the laws Democrats relied on in their effort were contrary to the Nevada Constitution.
But District Court Judge Jerry Wiese found that wasn’t the case. He gave election officials 10 days to count the petitions with the requested names removed and set a hearing for April 4 to determine whether the recalls qualify for the ballot.
Wiese wrote that he wasn’t trying to side with Democrats over Republicans.
“In fact, in the next election, it is just as likely that Democrats could attempt to recall elected Republican senators,” he wrote.
The GOP is likely to appeal the ruling to the Nevada Supreme Court.