LAS VEGAS — The Nevada Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that U.S. Senate candidate Scott Ashjian's name should stay on the November election ballot despite challenges to his qualifications.
The court ruled that it's too late to declare Ashjian unqualified because Nevada law requires ballots for people living outside the state to be prepared 40 days before the general election. The court says some ballots have already been printed and mailed.
"This appeal may have become moot," the court said.
Ashjian is running for U.S. Senate as a Tea Party of Nevada candidate.
Conservative groups have opposed him because they fear he'll take votes away from Republican nominee Sharron Angle. Several groups that identify with the movement have backed Angle and decried Ashjian as a sham who's trying to exploit tea party supporters.
Both Ashjian and Angle are trying to beat Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid and prevent him from winning a fifth term.
A recent poll commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal showed Reid and Angle evenly matched with 8 percent of voters undecided and 1 percent pledging support to Ashjian.
Angle and Ashjian recently met to discuss his candidacy, but he declined to withdraw from the race and support her. Details of the meeting became public when a secret recording was leaked to the Las Vegas Sun, on which Angle badmouthed GOP leaders and Ashjian complained his reputation was being unjustly hurt during the campaign.
Former Nevada Tea Party Chairman Syd James resigned after the flap and endorsed Angle. James, who arranged the one-hour meeting between Angle and Ashjian, said he scolded Ashjian for releasing the recording.
"I told him this was not honorable," James said.
James said Ashjian, his friend of 20 years, asked him to chair the Tea Party so Ashjian could run for office, but the title didn't come with any responsibilities.
"The party has never really been functional," James said.
Associated Press Writer Cristina Silva contributed to this report.
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