Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) Announces Run to Replace Ensign

The open seat left by Sen. John Ensign’s (R-NV) scandal-aided retirement in Nevada has drawn its first official top-tier candidate: Republican Congressman Dean Heller.

In an e-mail to supporters obtained by the Las Vegas Sun’s Jon Ralston, Heller announced his candidacy, which was already long expected by political observers regardless of whether Ensign retired. Heller’s note overwhelmingly focuses on fiscal issues and he proudly touts his vote against TARP, setting up a preview of the race ahead.

“My view then, just as it is now, is that debt fueled bailouts only hurts [sic] long-term economic growth and places taxpayers on the hook for the excesses of Wall Street,” Heller wrote. “Now I want to take this fight to the United States Senate.”On the Democratic side, Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) is exploring a run and is widely expected to join the fray. Democratic state officials, including Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, Secretary of State Ross Miller, and State Treasurer Kate Marshall, are also considered possible candidates.

For a full rundown of the race, read TPM’s handy guide.