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John Ensign

Via the National Journal:

Two-term Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada will resign on Friday, Republican sources tell National Journal, 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 tell NJ they are certain Ensign will resign.

"We have no reason to doubt that it's true and believe it's happening," a senior GOP official told NJ.

I'm pretty surprised to see this happen–Ensign had many chances to resign over the years, and sooner would have been better for him than later. But with his announcement six weeks ago that he wouldn't seek re-election, there just didn't seem to be a reason for him to quit early anymore. So either he's doing one last solid for the GOP (as the National Journal notes, this will give Heller an easy and instant move into the Senate), or he's worried that the still-pending ethics investigation against him will somehow make him look worse than he already does, or both.

I'm not sure whether a year-and-a-half of incumbency will make a huge difference in next year's race (Heller would have to stand for re-election in November 2012), but I'm guessing Shelley Berkeley, the almost-certain Democratic nominee, would rather face Rep. Heller rather than Sen. Heller. I'll be very curious to see how she reacts if this comes to pass, and what her strategy looks like.

One final observation: Assuming Sandoval does the obvious thing here, this would also create a vacancy in Heller's 2nd CD seat. That would prompt a special election, presumably under existing district lines, which could be a very entertaining affair. Candidates have already been lining up for the GOP primary to replace Heller, so I'd guess they'd all likely run in a special election, too - and that includes Sharron Angle. If Dems put up a strong candidate, we could potentially steal this seat. It's going to be interesting.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Will there be auditions? (4+ / 0-)

    I want to hear Sharron sing "God Bless The USA" for hers with background singers Orly and Sarah. Please?

    Trump / Palin 2012: "You're Fired / I Quit"

    by MKSinSA on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 04:02:18 PM PDT

  •  It's Good Friday (6+ / 0-)

    he's hoping his sins will be forgiven in 3 days so he can make that run for the Presidency.

    If the Newt can become a key player why can't he?


  •  I wonder (6+ / 0-)

    How loud would the rightwingers scream if we were appointing someone in exactly this manner?

    Im guessing somewhere around 22 Beckhours a day would be devoted to it until their base got bored and beck found something else to scream at.

    "May whatever power they believe in show the rightwingers mercy. They have been led astray by devils with chalkboards."

    by kamrom on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 04:06:37 PM PDT

  •  Mitch McTurtle and Big Head Cornyn shrug.... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sherlyle, TofG, Shahryar, Matt Z, filby

    his usefulness is at an end.

  •  This sounds exactly like the Nevada GOP, (15+ / 0-)

    or the rest of the GOP around the nation for that matter at first blush, "do anything to win, get an advantage, yadda-yadda-yadda". but. I think this is, if it's true, an Ensign parachute job.

    He's not a team player.
    He's not loyal or noble or worried about anybody else but himself.
    Never has been, never will be.

    Ensign probably got word leaked that something new was on it's way, like an indictment was a lot more likely than he and his legal team had imagined, and he's getting out in a way that makes him look like he's putting the GOP first and being noble as he takes one for the team.

    John Ensign wouldn't do this unless there was something coming that he had been tipped off to. He's not exactly a noble guy, and the Nevada GOP is such a fucking mess that it doesn't really gin up a lot of personal sacrifice or loyalty from the people who climb it to power.

    Getting Heller the power of the incumbency so that Berkeley has to run up hill against a guy who has already been seen by Nevadans as their Jr. Senator is a lucky benefit of Ensign bailing out ahead of some new development we will all find out about in a week or a month.

    Brian Sandoval is pretty much Jim Gibbons 2. That's the amazing thing. Everything that people hated about Gibbons, they get doubled down on with Sandoval. So, it's not as if we have a Governor who could talk Ensign into this. There is nobody in the Nevada state GOP who can bully or browbeat Ensign, even scandal plagued Ensign. The Nevada GOP makes the Massachusetts GOP, pre William Weld and his crowd, look brilliant and competent.

    I'm betting we find out the ugly details of why Ensign had to jump ASAP sooner rather than later.

    •  Just missed reading your remark (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LeftHandedMan, Hillbilly Dem

      before I posted mine, LHM.  Sorry for the echo.

    •  And if Sharron Angle is the nominee (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sherlyle, oblios arrow, Matt Z, wblynch

      I hope people outside of Nevada understand that she could win because the Tea Party and the Citizens United brigade are going to thug up the GOP primary for her, and then thug up the special for her too.

      Getting her into office will be like crack for the crazies.

      First: the obvious reason, crazy as a loon as she is, she has a real, and real loud, constituency here that feels cheated that she isn't a Senator right now, and they most definitely aren't over it, and
      Second: the Nevada GOP can't outorganize or out shout a Tea Party approved local teabagger even if they wanted to. If Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian go for the seat, the same thing happens in the primary that happened the last time, Lowden is the establishment, Tarkanian is like Diet Angle, and the Citizen's United crowd loves them some Angle... and
      Third: the less obvious reason, Nevada Democrats do not have a really deep local bench of known and trusted candidates. We just don't. We may have registered more Nevadans than the GOP has as a state party, but. That hasn't really translated into a robust local party. Every single time an important election comes up here, Dina Titus's name gets raised for a reason. Because she's the big name that is job free right now who is a perpetually viable candidate.  

      •  If Sharron Angle were truly that powerful (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        trumpeter, Matt Z, Odysseus

        she would have won in 2010. She raised more money than almost anybody, and lost by 7 points in a really poor year for Democrats, along with running against a very unpopular incumbent.

        People panic too much on this site.

        by thematt523 on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 04:29:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  As a former Massachusetts resident (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        speak2me, bozepravde15, Matt Z

        who moved to Nevada years ago, I have lived in a state where the Democratic Party is a calcified arrogant institution, and I have lived now in a state where the Democratic Party is largely somebodies machine first, and geared towards everybody else in the party second.

        Being a Democrat seems to be about 'what flavor of pain do you prefer, sir or madam' sometimes.

        What always bothered me about the Massachusetts Democratic Party is that it was so entrenched and so much an institution that they would fuck up elections because of individuals in powerful places, like Billy Bulger or Tommy Finneran, putting their fractured and individual agendas ahead of the parties goals and needs. Scott Harshbarger and Brian Roosvelt both got shivved by powers in the Massachusetts state house that should have been rock solid behind the party candidate. Many of the Democrats who ran against William Weld and, later on, his minions, lost because they were handicapped by the state Party powerful having other agendas besides facing Bill Weld and his minions and getting a Democrat elected Governor.

        In Nevada, it's all about Harry Reid. That's great for Harry Reid. Not so good for the health of the state party. The only way the party truly begins to reform itself is to be the post Reid era.  


        If Harry loses, you are screwed, because the state would instantly lose all of its clout and you have a crazy like Angle in the seat making the world worst.  

        You can have an unreformable static machine, with all of it's shortcomings and frustrations, and the most powrful man in the Senate, or, you can the ability to transform the state party, but you have that power because you, and everyone you know, and every issue you care about, is off in the weeds.

        Harry Reid wins, and his son and Dina Titus both lose. I can't help but wonder if a lot of people who ended up voting for Harry, but did it as they held their noses and voted for him because they bought the clout argument that we couldn't afford to lose the Senate leadership being held by a Nevadan, then took their ire at Harry out on his kid. Rory Reid ran a good campaign. He was a pretty selfless candidate who was really engaged and really wanted to help people. I met him, and I was more impressed with him than his father.

        If the people who voted for Harry Reid voted for Rory Reid in the same number, Rory would be the governor of Nevada. He's not. Instead, we got Jim Gibbons 2 in Brian Sandoval. And Harry Reid's machine tag-teaming with labor to beat Sharron Angle didn't do shit to save Dina Titus's seat. Harry Wins, Titus loses. If everybody who voted for Harry in Henderson and the burbs voted for Dina, she'd be in the seat because she only lost by about 2K votes.


  •  Is it usual to resign so abruptly? (7+ / 0-)

    As in tomorrow?  Makes you think the other shoe was about to hit the to speak.  

  •  The State Treasurer, Kate Marshall (5+ / 0-)

    has been mentioned as a candidate for the Dems in NV-02 right? She seems like a strong candidate. And she was just re-elected last year so in a special election or in a 2012 election, she wouldnt have to give up her current seat.

    •  Nancy Price is in, I think (0+ / 0-)

      Kate Marshall & Ross Miller really need to stay where they are right now as far as NV goes.

    •  We could do worse. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Prior to serving as our State Treasurer, Marshall earned her bachelor and juris doctorate degree from the University of California-Berkeley. Following graduation, she joined the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice and later created the Antitrust Unit for the State of Nevada.

      Plus Peace Corp and other shiny objects. She originally won in 2006 with 47% and re-elected with 48%, which in NV is enough when there's usually a fringe candidate and "None of the Above".

      Unfortunately, she didn't break better than the same 48% in Washoe county (pdf).

      For those who may not know, Nevada has two congressional seats, one which is mostly Clark county, and one which is everything else. Of the "everything else" district, 70% of the votes come from Washoe county, which is Reno/Sparks. Clark county is pretty solidly "D", everything outside of Washoe is pretty solidly "R". (Besides, everything outside of Washoe means a five mile drive between houses, and one house-holder went to get his gun when I suggested he vote for Kerry. Then the next house-holder met me at the door with a gun, just because I'm Asian; asked me if I spoke English. I quit canvassing that day, and suggested that they only send blondes out or not even bother.)

      So, Washoe again is the deal-maker. Do better than 50% in Washoe and she's in. Add a few points to be on the safe side. I didn't think I'd be in NV for 2012, I thought I'd be walking for a "better Democrat" in CA. But, just on the toobz, I like Marshall a hell of a lot more than I liked Derby ('08). If she's really the real deal then "I'm in". Dammit, I want the OFA lists from '08, I want the DFA lists from '08 and I want my account re-activated.

      I can do any job a campaign requires, (just on weekends) and you don't have to pay me. [Actually, you can't pay me, but I don't care.] If Marshal is what her press says she is, well, I just spent more than I can afford on new tires for my old-enough-to-vote car, may as well get some use out of them.

      “I’ve come to the conclusion that people who say they never have had a second thought most probably have never had a first!”‘

      by BobSmith415 on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 05:16:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  makes me fear for my country (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG, sherlyle, Matt Z
    once-promising career that had the former veterinarian and casino manager eyeing a possible presidential bid

    the fact that a man like this could even be considered as a candidate. This once-greatest country in the world will soon be run by weathermen and I mean that in the sense of dumb people chosen for their looks who'll say whatever they're told to say.

  •  Republican... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG, sherlyle, wishingwell, Matt Z

    sex scandal...



    It's about time I changed my signature.

    by Khun David on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 04:12:58 PM PDT

  •  Good move by the Repubs (3+ / 0-)

    This preemptive strike makes it much harder for Shelley.  On the other hand, we can still look forward to the clown car of republican congressional candidates.

  •  Maybe Ensign is getting paid (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sherlyle, Matt Z

    The GOP wants Ensign to resign now so that Heller (a) can run as an incumbent and (b) can run with the stench of Ensign's scandals 18 months in the rearview mirror.

    Maybe some GOP Mr. Moneybags has lined up a plush job for Ensign, as an incentive to leave now.  

    Win-win for the Goopers, lose-lose for the public.  Isn't that always how it shakes out?

    Please help to fight hunger with a donation to Feeding America.

    by MJB on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 04:16:51 PM PDT

  •  it's about time. (0+ / 0-)

    What is known about Heller?

    I am still learning, but the teachers often suck.

    by trumpeter on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 04:16:53 PM PDT

  •  I guess... (5+ / 0-)

    ..Ensign's mommy & daddy ran out of hush money to pay all the women Ensign was/is banging.

    Speaking of which:  Why has it never been asked WTF is a guy Ensign's age doing depending on his mom & dad for the money to buy his way out of his various fuck-ups?


    When Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in excess body fat and carrying a misspelled sign.

    by wyvern on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 04:18:49 PM PDT

  •  Veterinarian AND ( ! ) casino manager. Further.... (4+ / 0-)

    ... proof that Republicans make no sense whatsoever.

    "This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up."

    by itzik shpitzik on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 04:19:01 PM PDT

    •  Will my dog get better? (5+ / 0-)

      I can give you 3/2 odds on that!

      I am still learning, but the teachers often suck.

      by trumpeter on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 04:47:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't understand this comment. I've had (0+ / 0-)

      easily, a half dozen careers. Buss boy, Mickey D's, line-cook, casino bar-back, analytic chemist, small drug synthetic chemist, phone sex "fantasy maker", porn performer, telemarketer, contract administrator, computer repair and network engineer.

      I like learning and doing new things. Since the economy went into the toilet, and I'm old now, my choices are somewhat more limited. But why shouldn't a veterinarian manage a casino? Provided he turns his veterinary practice over to a competent successor, why not?

      “I’ve come to the conclusion that people who say they never have had a second thought most probably have never had a first!”‘

      by BobSmith415 on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 05:27:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hey relax. (0+ / 0-)

        It was a momentary snarkish reflection on the incongruity of a helping profession (that requires a degree) and, well, the opposite.

        It was not meant as a commentary on the variety of jobs you, or I, have had.

        "This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up."

        by itzik shpitzik on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 05:33:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Next thing you know they'll have a (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PSzymeczek, filby

      haberdasher running for office.  

      Preemptive war is like committing suicide for fear of death

      by thestructureguy on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 06:29:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why would this be a problem? We're (0+ / 0-)

        supposed to be a nation lead by citizen-administrators, IIRC one of our previous presidents was a haberdasher. Yep, Harry S. Truman, the last sane Republican. I love Google.

        Heck, at this point, I'd run for Congress myself, but some of my professions are still too far out of the Pale to be considered.

        “I’ve come to the conclusion that people who say they never have had a second thought most probably have never had a first!”‘

        by BobSmith415 on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 08:45:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  the fix is in (0+ / 0-) appears that the Republicans in the state of Nevada are deliberately conspiring to put the fix in on keeping this seat. Talk about deliberately and deceptively going out of your way to try to manipulate your way into retaining a Senate seat...if Democrats tried pulling something like any any know that the Republicans would be squealing like pigs.

    This attempt at manipulating things with backroom deals and trying to give an advantage to one person over another reeks...of subterfuge of the democratic process.

    This deceptive, conspiratorial backroom deal cooked up by partisan political cronies should be a major election issue.

    •  How is this wrong? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Seneca Doane, filby

      Ensign is only resigning because of ethics issues. It's only a bonus that Heller may get appointed. Besides, being appointed doesn't guarantee you incumbent strength. Nate Silver said that being appointed gives a candidate no relative strength.

      Besides, it's not like they're subverting the will of the voters. The voters can vote out Heller in 2012 if they want. And this seat was going to be held by Ensign until that point if he hadn't resigned.

      People panic too much on this site.

      by thematt523 on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 04:28:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ensign's problems have been known (0+ / 0-)

        for quite some time, and now that his seat's up for election, he's decided to...allow his fellow backroom-dealing Republican cronies decide who they want to give an advantage to in a GOP primary. Sounds like a lot of backroom politics in "smoke-filled rooms" by a political party which, if the shoe were on the other foot, would be claiming the exact same thing. The timing is what smells to me the most. As one of the Republican's former Congressional leaders (Dick Armey) used to say abour President Clinton...this whole thing, timing and all just
        "doesn't pass the smell test," in terms of transparency.

    •  It's not "putting the fix in" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wdrath, thematt523

      It's exactly what they should do.  Democrats would do the same thing.  You're right that Republicans would squeal like stuck pigs, of course, but what's new?  (They always do.  There's no "privilege" like Republican Privilege.)  I'm not going to squeal about this; in fact, I'm happy to see Ensign do something legal.

      Unplug the Koch machine! It's swallowing people's money!

      by Seneca Doane on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 07:26:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If Heller is the incumbent does that make (4+ / 0-)

    it more likely he is teabagged?

    "Intolerance is something which belongs to the religions we have rejected." - J.J. Rousseau -6.38, -4.15

    by James Allen on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 04:25:57 PM PDT

  •  Consider the Alternative (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane

    Millions of opportunities to present, to the American people, Congressman Angle as the sensible voice of the Republican Party.

    We can have change for the better.

    by phillies on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 04:32:54 PM PDT

  •  [scratches chin] (5+ / 0-)

    Hmmm, I wonder if Senate Majority Leader Reid might be able to schedule some votes over the next year-and-a-half that might be hard for Heller to explain back home?

    It might be especially tough if other R's with more seniority could be convinced to . . . oh, maybe vote to raise the debt limit for starters.

    No matter who replaces Ensign they might do well not to expect a cakewalk in 2012.

    An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out? Rene Descartes

    by Had Enough Right Wing BS on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 04:35:05 PM PDT

  •  He still has a bunch of pending ethics charges, (0+ / 0-)

    right? Those all go away if he resigns, right? Seriously, is that correct? I'm not sure.

    He's probably already got some lucrative post-Senate career all lined up. Why wait through another 20 months of lame duckness when he can jump into a pile of green tomorrow?

  •  Yeah! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, Matt Z

    It was announced before Rachel comes on the air. Sweet.

  •  Looks like Nancy Price is in on the D side (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, Matt Z

    She didn't run well against Heller this last election, but she's a solid candidate for us. She could take Sharrrron and give us one more D in the House.

  •  I guess Mr. and Mrs. Ensign aren't bailing him out (0+ / 0-)

    Not this time, anyway. Paying off his mistress and her husband is one thing, but salvaging his Senate career is beyond their means. Perhaps this is a lesson to allow him to stand on his own two feet. It should have been done 40 years ago, but better late than never.

    Hard to believe this schmoe was once talked about as a potential Presidential candidate (and after his tenure as NRSC chairman, where he presided over an eight seat loss for the party in 2008).

  •  Heller easy & instant move into the Senate EXACTLY (0+ / 0-)

    im sure the repubs put pressure on ensign

  •  Wonderful news! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Now we can push the incumbent as far right as possible—let's start with the debt ceiling vote—or turn his Tea Party base against him.

    Incumbent Republicans are weaker than open-seat Republicans this cycle... not only from the other party, but from their own. Incumbents have to go on the record on a lot of things that one of the Republican base, the bankers, or the independents won't like; open-seat challengers aren't restrained like that.

    Now he actually has to vote... will he go far right and alienate the independents, or will he make rational votes and get a Tea Party challenger? Let's do what we can to hammer that wedge home. What can we do to make that happen?

  •  He's crazy to resign (0+ / 0-)

    He only job-scared his employee's wife into bed and then tried to shut their yaps with his mommy and daddy's money.  I mean, for a Republican, he should be running for President.

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