- Associated Press - Friday, December 4, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Republican state Sen. Ben Kieckhefer can move forward with a lawsuit arguing his GOP primary opponent defamed him last year by falsely linking him to Democratic Sen. Harry Reid.

The Nevada Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with a lower court, which denied a motion from defendant Gary Schmidt to dismiss Kieckhefer’s lawsuit.

“We are obviously happy about the ruling and considering our next steps,” said Kieckhefer, who defeated Schmidt 2-1 in the 2014 Republican primary and represents a district including Carson City and portions of Washoe County.

Kieckhefer sued Schmidt over a campaign advertisement that said Kieckhefer endorsed Reid for Senate in 2010. Schmidt cited a 2010 article from the Las Vegas Sun as the basis for the ad, and also told the Reno Gazette-Journal that he believed it because Kieckhefer did not publicly support Reid’s Republican rival Sharron Angle.

Kieckhefer argued the article only said he supported state Senator Bill Raggio for majority leader. Raggio supported Reid.

Schmidt’s motion to dismiss Kieckhefer’s lawsuit alleged the state senator was filing a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or SLAPP lawsuit, meant to silence criticism. The district court rejected the claim, and the case went to the Supreme Court.

All seven justices affirmed the lower court’s decision in a ruling filed Wednesday. “One cannot rationally infer from this article that Kieckhefer supported Reid and there has been absolutely no other evidence presented that supports Schmidt’s statement,” they wrote.

Supreme Court justices went further than the lower court, asserting Schmidt acted in bad faith by making the statements.

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