Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has appointed GOP Rep. Dean Heller to serve out the remainder of Sen. John Ensign’s term, a widely anticipated move that also sets in motion a special election for a Republican-leaning congressional seat.
“Dean Heller is a compassionate man of deep personal integrity with a down-to-earth approach to public service,” Sandoval said in a statement. “I have no doubt Dean will serve Nevada in the Senate for many years, and I look forward to working with him on behalf of the state we both love so much.”
Ensign announced last week that he is resigning from the Senate seat he has held since 2001 — less than two months after he said he would not seek reelection in 2012. The Republican has been under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee since the 2009 revelation that he had an affair with Cindy Hampton, a former campaign aide and the wife of his onetime deputy chief of staff, Doug Hampton.
In his resignation announcement, Ensign maintained that he did nothing wrong but said he wants to spare his family “any further rounds of investigation, depositions, drawn-out proceedings or, especially, public hearings.” He will vacate the seat on May 3.
The 51-year-old Heller said he is “deeply humbled and honored” to be granted the appointment.