Sandoval makes it official: Senator Heller |

Sandoval makes it official: Senator Heller

Geoff Dornan

Gov. Brian Sandoval today made official what everyone expected him to do, naming Rep. Dean Heller to replace John Ensign as one of Nevada’s U.S. Senators.

Heller announced he was running for the post shortly after Ensign announced he was retiring from the Senate. That announcement was greeted just a couple of days later by Sandoval’s endorsement.

So, when Ensign a week ago announced he would leave May 3, it didn’t take a large leap of faith to conclude Sandoval would appoint Heller to the position.

The official appointment will take place when Ensign is officially out of office next week.

“The people of Nevada deserve a new senator who can begin work immediately,” said Sandoval. “Too many important issues face our state and our nation to name a caretaker to this important position.”

He described Heller, now in his third term representing Congressional District 2, as “an experienced voice in Washington.”

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

Heller said it will take a lot of hard work to get the state and nation moving in the right direction again.

“There is no question that our nation needs to change the way we do business if we are going to get our economy back on track and get Nevadans working again,” he said in a statement. “As I have stated before, it is time for government to be accountable to the American people and make decisions that lead the way for greater prosperity and fulfill our promises to future generations.”

He said serving in the Senate will give him a stronger voice in influencing the policies that guide the nation.

Politically, Heller is not expected to deviate very much from the policies and philosophy of Ensign. Both are conservative Republicans who have loudly protested federal deficit spending, the health care legislation and stimulus legislation.

Before running for Congress, Heller served 12 years as Nevada’s Secretary of State. He was an Assemblyman representing District 40 in Carson City before that.

The appointment will open Heller’s seat which, under Nevada law, must be filled by a special election held within 180 days of the vacancy. Since that law has never been used before, a number of questions have been raised as to whether is will be an open, free-for-all with anyone wishing to able to file and run or a more controlled affair.

No matter what Secretary of State Ross Miller decides, political analysts say they expect a court challenge.

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