The Washington Times - March 15, 2011, 03:00PM

Nevada Rep. Dean Heller said Tuesday he will run for the Senate seat held by fellow Republican John Ensign, who said last week he won’t seek another term in 2012.

The announcement by the three-term House member ends months of speculation after Ensign’s career tumbled amid an ongoing ethics investigation.

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Heller, who hails from Carson City in north Nevada, long had been considered the GOP’s leading candidate should Ensign step down.

Heller announced his candidate in an e-mail to supporters.

“As families across Nevada struggle to pay their bills and fight to keep their homes, Barack Obama and his beltway allies are proposing record spending that will add to America’s job-killing debt,” wrote Heller. “We cannot allow this to happen.”

Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley has been rumored to be exploring a run for the seat on the Democratic side.

Ensign, who has been mired in an ethics investigation stemming from a sex and lobbying scandal for almost two years, said he was stepping down in order to shelter his family from the scrutiny another campaign would bring.