Exit John Ensign. Enter Heller and Angle?

The U.S. Senate Republican Caucus is a senator shy with the resignation of Nevada's scandal-scarred John Ensign.  Per the Washington Times, Ensign is the subject of an escalating ethics probe. 

Ensign's resignation opens the door for Nevada's Republican Governor Brian Sandoval to appoint a replacement.  According to the PRIsm Information Network, the betting is on putative GOP Senate nominee and current U.S. Representative Dean Heller (Ensign had announced that he would retire at the close of his term). 

A Heller appointment opens up his U.S. House seat to a special election.  Sharon Angle, Tea Party hero and loser in last year's challenge to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has already announced her intention to seek Heller's House seat. 

With the going getting tougher, Ensign decided to get going, something he should have done two years ago when he announced his affair with a former campaign staffer whose husband was an Ensign Senate staffer.  Allegations have swirled that Ensign helped his paramour's husband obtain lobbying work.  The Ensign drama goes to show that real life can have more plot twists than a soap opera. 

If Heller is appointed to the Ensign seat, as is likely the case, it gives Heller a leg up on Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, a Las Vegas Democrat with strong union backing.  Berkley is expected to seek Ensign's open seat.  Union-heavy Las Vegas is the Democrat base in Nevada.  A Senate appointment for Heller raises his profile and gives him advantages to cut into Berkley's Las Vegas base. 

Meanwhile, a special election means Sharon Angle may enter the U.S. House sooner than January 2013, bringing a strong conservative voice to critical budget and other debates in 2011. 

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