- - Monday, May 9, 2011

SENATE

Heller sworn in as newest senator

Nevada’s Dean Heller was sworn in Monday as a senator to replace the embattled John Ensign, who resigned amid a Senate Ethics Committee investigation stemming from an extramarital affair he had with a campaign aide.

Mr. Heller, 50, was serving his third term in the House when Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval selected him to serve out the remainder of Ensign’s term.

Mr. Heller was escorted to the front of the Senate chamber by Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose right arm was in a sling and left eye was blackened from a fall suffered last week. Vice President Joseph R. Biden administered the oath as Mr. Heller’s wife, Lynne, and their four children and son-in-law watched from the gallery.

“As Dean transitions from representing a single district to the entire state, I look forward to working with him to make the tough choices that will help our state and our citizens recover,” said Mr. Reid, Nevada’s other senator and a Democrat.

The transition does little to change the political dynamic in the Senate, as Mr. Heller and Mr. Ensign shared similar views on most issues.

Mr. Heller was already the favorite to win next year’s GOP primary election for Mr. Ensign’s seat when Mr. Sandoval made the appointment. On the Democratic side, Rep. Shelley Berkley has said she will run for the seat.

INDIANA

Donnelly enters Senate race

SOUTH BEND | U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly says he’s running for the Indiana seat in the U.S. Senate currently held by Republican Richard Lugar, and expects the political climate for Democrats to be better than last year.

Mr. Donnelly spoke to reporters by telephone Monday, hours after he announced his run.

He is entering a race where Democrats see potential for winning because of the strong challenge the six-term incumbent Lugar is facing from his right by state Treasurer Richard Mourdock for the Republican nomination.

Democratic activists believe the seat will be a strong pickup opportunity if Mr. Lugar does not win his primary.

In his announcement video, Mr. Donnelly speaks against what he called Republican proposals to privatize Social Security and Medicare.

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