Reporting from Reno, Nev. — Rep. Dean Heller, a third-term Reno lawmaker, was appointed Wednesday to fill the seat of retiring Nevada Sen. John Ensign.
"The people of Nevada deserve a new senator who can begin work immediately," Gov. Brian Sandoval said of his fellow Republican. "Too many important issues face our state and our nation to name a caretaker to this important position. Nevada needs an experienced voice in Washington, DC."
Sandoval took less than a week to replace Ensign, who abruptly resigned amid a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into corruption charges arising from an extramarital affair and payments made to a former top aide.
Ensign, a Republican who once harbored presidential ambitions, will leave office May 3.
Sandoval's selection of Heller was no surprise. The congressman had announced his intention to run for Ensign's seat in 2012, and Sandoval immediately endorsed him, working to help clear the GOP field. There are two Democrats angling for the Senate seat, Rep. Shelly Berkley of Las Vegas and attorney Byron Georgiou.
Heller's appointment creates an opening in Nevada's 2nd Congressional district and will require a special election to be held within 180 days after Sandoval calls for the vote. He has a week to make that announcement.