Heller Tapped by Nevada Gov. to Fill Senate Seat

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U.S. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev. has been selected to fill the U.S. Senate seat left open by the resignation of Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.

Ensign stepped down last week in light of a Senate ethics investigation.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval on Wednesday appointed Heller as Ensign's replacement. He will succeed Ensign next month and serve out the rest of his term which expires in 2012.

In a statement Wednesday, Sandoval said Heller "is an experienced representative who is ready for the responsibilities of this office, and who will work hard, not just for Nevada, but for the entire nation."

"A fiscal conservative who believes in limited government, Dean will fight to keep taxes low and balance the federal budget," Sandoval said. "He understands that the federal government spends too much money and places too many regulatory burdens on small business."

Heller said he was "deeply humbled" by the appointment.

"There is a lot of hard work ahead to get our state and nation moving in the right direction," he said in a statement.

Heller's appointment was anticipated and now his House seat will have to be filled. State law says a special election must be held within 180 days of a vacancy.

Ensign, 53, has been dogged by an ethics investigation for the last two years after he admitted having an extramarital affair with a former staffer. The Senate Ethics Committee was investigating whether he tried to illegally cover it up.

Ensign said in March he would not seek re-election in 2012. Last week he abruptly announced his resignation effective May 3.

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