At first he stood firm: the embattled Sen. John Ensign saying that, despite investigations into his conduct, he would stand for re-election. And then, just last month, he said he would complete his term, but not seek re-election.
And Thursday he packed it in. Saying the personal cost of staying in office was too much to bear, the man who once was considered possible presidential material announced his resignation, effective May 3.
Ensign made his plans known not in a news conference but through a statement: “It is with tremendous sadness that I officially hand over the Senate seat that I have held for eleven years. The turbulence of these last few years is greatly surpassed by the incredible privilege that I feel to have been entrusted to serve the people of Nevada. I can honestly say that being a United States Senator has been the honor of my life.”
The move opens the door for Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval to appoint Republican Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV2) to complete Ensign’s term through 2012, at which time Heller could then seek election to the seat as an incumbent, getting a strategic advantage over his presumed opponent, Democrat Rep. Shelley Berkley. …
An adviser to Sandoval said it is unlikely the governor would settle on a replacement for Ensign other than Heller. When Heller announced his Senate bid, Sandoval quickly endorsed him, and no other Republicans have ventured into the Senate race.
Such an appointment will trigger a chain reaction in Silver State representation that could also claim another casualty who’s been on the outs with the local GOP: Sharron Angle.
Under electoral rules, if the governor appoints Heller, Heller’s seat has to be filled by a special election, in which the state GOP’s Central Committee will handpick a Republican, and state Democrats will handpick one of their own, to face each other.
“At this point, it’s hard to say, but I think three or four candidates could emerge and compete for it,” List said, listing Angle, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki and current state GOP Chairman Mark Amodei as likely vying for the post. It’s a race in which the Tea Party is less likely to play such a dominant role as it did in 2010: Each congressional hopeful will only have to convince members of the Central Committee that they’re the best pick.
Still, state and federal laws governing special elections are murky at best and Nevada has no experience in running a federal special election.
Some lawyers argue the law allows multiple major party candidates to file for the election, instead of putting the nominating decision to the parties’ central committees. In that case, several Republicans and several Democrats could vie for the seat on the same ballot.
Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller said he will make a decision on the process after reviewing all of the applicable laws if Heller is appointed.
If you need more proof that this is the “R” cycle, complete with resignations you don’t need to look much further than today’s headline. With the Senate Ethics Committee investigation looming Senator Jon Ensign, a Republican from Nevada will resign. The Las Vegas Sun has the rest of the story.
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There is a time for politics and a time for governing. The time for politics is over the time for governing is upon us.