Nevada Governor appoints Heller to finish Ensign’s term

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has appointed Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) to succeed Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), who resigned last week (effective May 3rd) rather than facing a potentially damaging ethics inquiry:

Sandoval announced Wednesday, triggering the state’s first ever House special election and altering the dynamic of an already active Senate race.

“Dean Heller currently represents 16 Nevada counties in their entirety and parts of Nevada’s most populous county, Clark County. Dean has served as a statewide Constitutional officer for 12 years, as a member of the Nevada Legislature, and is serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Sandoval said in a statement. “He has quickly risen through the ranks within the United States House of Representatives.”

“I am deeply humbled and honored to be appointed to the Senate by Governor Sandoval. There is a lot of hard work ahead to get our state and nation moving in the right direction. Nevadans across our state have been struggling with job loss, high gas prices, and foreclosures,” said Heller. “There is no question that our nation needs to change the way we do business if we are going to get our economy back on track and get Nevadans working again.”

Ensign announced earlier this year that he would not run for re-election. Last week, facing pressure from a Senate Ethics Committee investigating his conduct in an affair with a married aide, Ensign said he would resign, effective May 3.

Heller, who is the GOP’s best chance to retain the seat, had already announced his candidacy for what was going to be an open race next year. He has a lifetime score of 89% from the American Conservative Union. He scored a 77% from the Club for Growth. He voted 98% of the time to remove wasteful pork projects from appropriations bills. Heller’s record is one generally supportive of free trade. He also voted against TARP and other bailouts, the stimulus, ObamaCare and recently voted twice against renewal of the PATRIOT Act.

According to Public Policy Polling, a Democratic public relations firm, he maintains a slight lead over his likely Democratic opponent, Rep. Shelley Berkley. He has lead by as many as 13 points.

A special election in NV-2 will be held to fill the remainder of Heller’s term. Sharron Angle, who ran a horrible campaign against Sen. Harry Reid last year, has been mentioned previously as a possible candidate. Many Nevada Republicans believe that her nomination could cost the party the seat.

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