- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Republican senator seemed to break Wednesday with his party leader’s insistence that President Barack Obama not nominate a Supreme Court replacement for the late Antonin Scalia.

But later Wednesday, a spokesman for Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said the lawmaker agreed with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the next president should make the selection.

In a written statement announcing his position, Heller said, “The chances of approving a new nominee are slim, but Nevadans should have a voice in the process.”

Heller said he wanted Obama to put the people’s will ahead of his own liberal agenda and added, “But should he decide to nominate someone to the Supreme Court, who knows, maybe it’ll be a Nevadan.”

In a subsequent email, Neal Patel, Heller’s communications director, said the senator does not want Obama to announce a nomination.

“Nevadans should have a voice in the process means this November on Election Day,” Patel wrote.

Just hours after Scalia’s death Saturday, McConnell, R-Ky., said Obama should leave the nomination for whoever is elected president in November. Numerous GOP senators have backed McConnell on that, though some have not ruled out hearings and a vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Obama has said he will nominate a replacement. GOP Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, who backs abortion rights, is among the names political activists have discussed as a possibility, though an unlikely one.

Nevada is closely divided between the two political parties. Heller has taken some moderate stances on issues, including backing a 2013 bill banning workplace discrimination against gays.

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