Heller was already a Senate candidate before Ensign announced his May 3 resignation, and there was already an active GOP primary underway for his House seat. 2010 Senate nominee Sharron Angle
(R), retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. Kirk Lippold
(R), and state Sen. Greg Brower
(R) have announced that they will run to replace Heller. Two other potential heavyweight candidates are also mulling bids -- Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki
(R) and state GOP chair Mark Amodei
(R). A Krolicki adviser has said the lt. gov. will have an announcement on the race, one way or the other, early next week.
For Republicans, leaving the nomination process to the state party committees would likely give Krolicki and Amodei -- two establishment Republicans -- the inside track to the nomination. A free-for-all, with the potential for vote splitting, could open things up for Angle. Speculation swirled over the possibility that Angle could run as an independent or third party candidate if the state party committees decide the nominee and she is not chosen. But Angle said she intends to pursue the seat as a Republican.
Angle appeared to be gearing up for a special election contest Friday, as she sent out a fundraising email saying "a Special Election must take place in the next 180 days. I must begin to raise money immediately if Republicans intend to hold this seat."
On the Democratic side, former Nevada Democratic Chairman Jill Derby
, who has lost twice before to Heller, said she is running for his seat. State Treasurer Kate Marshall
is also considering a bid.
The 2nd District leans Republican, although Sen. John McCain
(R-Ariz.) barely won there in 2008, beating then-Sen. Obama
by only 89 votes.
Updated at 7:45 p.m.