More Heller: Ensign will face GOP primary challenger if he runs again

In his appearance today on a Northern Nevada television show, Rep. Dean Heller predicted Sen. John Ensign, a fellow Republican being investigated for ethics violations, will face a challenger in the 2012 Republican primary if he decides to run for re-election.

"I think he will have a primary," Heller said on Nevada Newsmakers. "If he chooses to stay in, will there be a competitive primary? Probably. "

Heller, who is expected to win re-election to a third term in November to his House seat representing Northern Nevada and a slice of Clark County, has been mentioned widely as a potential candidate to replace or succeed the embattled Ensign.

On the television show, Heller again declined to say whether he might run, saying "we'll talk about that in six months."

Heller was asked about news reports that Ensign is running short of campaign funding after paying legal bills from the ongoing investigations.

Ensign "has his work in front of him, and he knows that, too," Heller said. "He knows he is going to have to pick up the pace if he wants to be a player come the next election cycle. He has dug himself a deep hole."

Asked about his fundraising on Monday after an event in Las Vegas, Ensign told Benjamin Spillman of the Review-Journal he intends to step up his fundraising.

"We'll start much more aggressively toward the end of this year," Ensign said. "The beginning of next year we'll be very aggressive with fundraising."