Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) is officially the newly appointed Senator for Nevada, the Las Vegas Sun reports. He’ll take the seat being vacated in early May with the resignation of Republican Sen. John Ensign.
Heller had already been running for the seat, following the scandal-plagued Ensign’s announcement that he would not run again in 2012. When Ensign announced his resignation last week, Heller became the immediate favorite to be appointed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.
“The people of Nevada deserve a new senator who can begin work immediately,” Sandoval said in a press release, mounting an apparent defense of his appointment of an already active candidate. “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.”
This appointment gives Heller an initial incumbency in 2012 against his Democratic challenger, Rep. Shelley Berkley. A recent survey from Public Policy Polling (D) gave Heller a narrow lead of 47%-43% over Berkley in this perennial swing state.