Nevada governor says he will name Ensign successor by May 3

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) said he will appoint Sen. John Ensign's (R-Nev.) successor before the senator's May 3 resignation date.

He did not give any hints as to who might get the job.

“Pursuant to the relevant law I expect to announce an appointment before the resignation effective date of May 3. I take very seriously the importance of this appointment, so to speculate on potential candidates for appointment before then would be premature," he said in a statement Friday.

Ensign, who had previously said he would not be running for reelection next year, announced Thursday he would resign from office, effective May 3.

Speculation has been that Sandoval will appoint Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) to the seat.

Heller had already announced his Senate candidacy, and some observers believe he could benefit from the advantages of the incumbency.

His appointment, however, would trigger a special election for his House seat. Under Nevada law, Sandoval has a week to call a special election within 180 days of the vacancy.