With disgraced Sen. John Ensign consigned to history, Dean Heller will take his place. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval confirmed what many had expected on Wednesday by appointing Heller, a fellow Republican and current U.S. representative, to fill Ensign’s seat when he leaves on May 3. It could give Heller, who had already announced plans to run, a leg up in the race to replace Ensign permanently when his term ends in Jan. 2012. The appointment will set up a special election to replace Heller in the House. Ensign leaves under a cloud of ethics investigations. He had earlier said he wouldn’t run, then announced last week that he’d step down early.