NV-Sen: Ensign to Announce Retirement

Retirement season is in full swing in the Senate, and it’s looking like we’ll soon have one more. Unfortunately, it’s one where Dems would probably be better served running against the badly damaged incumbent, John Ensign, than the likely Republican replacement (Rep. Dean Heller).

Sen. John Ensign is expected to announce at an afternoon news conference in Las Vegas that he will retire rather than face a brutal 2012 re-election campaign, according to knowledgeable sources.

The news conference is set for noon (Pacific time); I suppose it’s possible the multiple sources are wrong. The real question, at this point, is how long it takes post-conference for Heller to announce… and then, what does potential Dem candidate Rep. Shelley Berkley do, now that she faces a much less appealing race against Heller?

UPDATE: With the news conference underway, Ensign confirms that he’s retiring in 2012, but won’t resign and will finish his term “in strong fashion.” He was planning on running again as recently as last week he says, but, in the end, couldn’t put his family through it. Jon Ralston’s reaction?

Ensign puts family first after polls show he has no chance, Heller all but in, ethics panel ramps up probe and money slows down.

132 thoughts on “NV-Sen: Ensign to Announce Retirement”

  1. is that Berkeley passes. The Democrats can put up someone like SoS Ross Miller, who doesn’t have to give up his office to run.

  2. I know everyone has been assuming that she is the first choice, but I’ve also caught at least some suggestions that perhaps one of the Democratic statewide officials would be a better statewide nominee.

    What’s the word from Nevada – would Treasurer Kate Marshall, SoS Ross Miller, AG Catherine Cortez Masto, or Controller Kim Wallin be strong Senate candidates against Heller? Stronger or weaker than Berkeley?

    Is Shelley really committed to making this race? I’ve gotten some sense that she has a slight case of cold feet.

  3. I don’t see why Ensign would stick around to get humiliated by the ethics committee. I think this gives him the green light to go find a high dollar low work job making rain or lobbying for adult sex toys or something.

    I’d bet he’s gone by June, paging Senator Heller!

  4. With Heller all but certain to run for Senate that creates an open seat in NV-02. IMHO this is a winnable seat, especially if Sharon Angle is the Republican. Who we got?

  5. I’m willing to believe that he won’t be an easy candidate to defeat, but I’m not sure why he’s considered in the same league, or one just below, someone like Hoeven. It seems like we have the winds at our back in the state, and if there’s a strong performance at the top of the ticket by Obama, that only helps.  

  6. The thing with Berkeley is, as others have pointed above, the Nevada Democratic bench is actually quite strong. The problem is, Heller’s perceived to be a near-unbeatable candidate, so it won’t necessarily be easy drafting one of these top-tier folks.

    As for Angle, I agree, if she runs, it’s for the house seat. She wants to win and I think she has a little political savvy in her.

  7. If Heller goes for it, the primary for the US Senate seat will of course be the same day as the primary for Heller’s soon to be open seat.  If he can get his supporters out, and coalesce around one candidate for his House seat, they can take Angle down.  I am sure someone like Heller would rather not be part of a 6 person Nevada Senate/House delegation that included Sharon Angle.  

  8. The last poll I saw showed Berkley actually doing best against Ensign (a point or two over AG Masto & SoS Miller) but faring the worst against Heller, whereas Masto & Miller looked potentially stronger against him (not a lot, but there were a lot more undecideds in those match-ups).

    Masto, Miller and Treasurer Kate Marshall are all in their second terms and all seem quite competent. I have a hard time believing that one of them might not be better going up against Heller. Plus, they’re all younger than Berkley and have won statewide, instead of just in the Vegas area.

    If one of them is a particularly good campaigner, they’d probably be a better bet than coronating Berkley. And as has been pointed out, they could keep their day jobs…

  9. Bad: Heller slaughtering Ensign in a primary

    Good: Heller facing a teabagger who may only get 30% in a primary but ends up carrying a lot of water that leads to turning Heller from safe/blah to establishment/Washington insider.

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