Nevada Republican Rep. Dean Heller announced Tuesday that he is running for the Senate seat currently held by retiring Republican Sen. John Ensign.
Heller represents Nevada’s sprawling 2nd congressional district, geographically the third largest in the country.
The Las Vegas Sun reported that Heller was expected to challenge Ensign in the Republican primary if Ensign did not resign. Despite Ensign’s announced retirement, Heller told The Sun that he plans for a tough primary.
“I don’t know what to expect, but I’m going to plan like this is a primary campaign,” Heller said in an interview with The Sun. “I anticipate this will be as tough a race as I’ve ever been in.”
One major variable in the Senate race is the possible candidacy of former Nevada Assemblywoman and 2010 senatorial candidate Sharron Angle. If Angle entered the race, it would immediate make for a competitive primary.
Angle lost the Republican primary campaign for the 2nd congressional district to Heller by approximately 400 votes in 2006. After her defeat, she refused to concede and sued unsuccessfully to force a new election. One possibility is that Angle will run again for the House seat.