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Rural Nevada to elect new House representative

Cristina Silva And Sandra Chereb

Voters in a rural Nevada district are electing a new member to the U.S. House.

Results of the state's first special election to fill a House vacancy are expected to be released after the polls close Tuesday night. The winner will replace former Rep. Dean Heller, who was appointed to the Senate in May after Republican John Ensign resigned amid a sex scandal.

Republican Mark Amodei and Democrat Kate Marshall are the top candidates to beat. Also on the ballot are Tim Fasano, the Independent American Party candidate, and Helmuth Lehmann, an independent businessman who gathered signatures to get on the ballot.

The GOP-leaning district, which includes northern Nevada and a slice of Clark County in the south, has never elected a Democrat. Of the more than 75,000 people who cast a ballot in the early voting period, at least 40,000 were Republicans. That made Amodei the perceived front-runner as Election Day began.

Amodei, a former state senator and state GOP chairman, has pledged to support a balanced budget amendment in Congress and signed an anti-tax pledge. Marshall, the state treasurer, has been critical of President Barack Obama but supports his federal health care overhaul.

The special election contest has been brief, but heated. Marshall slammed Amodei for passing tax increases as a state lawmaker and sought to portray him as a foe to Medicare in a series of TV attacks. Amodei linked Marshall to Obama and other Washington Democrats unpopular with rural Nevada's Republican voters.

The winner will serve the remainder of Heller's term and must seek re-election in 2012 to keep the seat.

The Associated Press