Updated at 7:29 pm
Two-term Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada on Thursday announced his resignation ending a once-promising career that had the former veterinarian and casino manager eyeing a possible presidential bid before an ugly sex scandal and subsequent ethics probe snuffed out his ambition and, eventually, his Senate tenure.
Ensign's resignation will clear the way for GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval to appoint GOP Rep. Dean Heller, already an announced candidate for Ensign's seat, to the Senate vacancy.
Ensign, 53, began notifying Nevada friends of his intentions late Thursday. The senator has kept his distance from official GOP circles in Washington for months, but word quickly spread to GOP figures inside the Beltway who confirmed a report by Nevada politics watcher Jon Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun to NJ.
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