Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Ensign Out in Nevada; What’s Next?

In Senate on March 8, 2011 at 11:04 am

In a story many believed to be inevitable, scandal-tainted Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) announced that he will not seek re-election next year.

Embroiled in an extra-marital affair with his former chief of staff’s wife, Ensign could never rebound from the extensive negative publicity even though he was actively attempting to prepare for a 2012 campaign. Polling showed Ensign faring poorly in both the Republican primary and the general election. It was clear that the senator’s road to re-election was a rocky one, making him a decided underdog to win either election.

Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV-2), commonly viewed as the GOP’s best candidate-in-waiting, is expected to soon announce his senatorial bid. Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki is another potential Republican candidate. Democrats also have a good bench in the state, as they control four statewide constitutional offices. Their most likely candidates are Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller. Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV-1), who originally said she would decide whether to run for the Senate by the middle of last month, now says she will do so by summer. Ms. Berkley says the Ensign announcement is not a factor is her decision to run statewide or for re-election.

This will be a tough race for both sides. Nevada is now a swing state, but Pres. Obama ran well here in 2008, defeating John McCain 55-42%. Obama will again be on the ballot in 2012, which will undoubtedly boost the Democratic turnout model. Republicans rebounded nicely in 2010, though failed to defeat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. They did win a convincing victory for governor after ousting their own incumbent in the GOP primary. The new open Senate race begins as a toss-up. Ensign is the eighth senator to announce retirement, already a quarter of the in-cycle members standing for election next year.
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  1. The Democrats don’t get on their soap box and claim the high religious ground that the Republicans always do, like “Family Values ” comes to mind, thats one of the major differences between the two parties. You may not agree, but that’s how I see it.

    This was a long time in coming, goodbye “hush money” Senator John Ensign (R-NV), don’t let the door hit you. The party of “Family Values” my ass, more like the “Party of hypocrites”. Poor Christopher Lee, at least he resigned! What about the “diaper boy” and big mouth Senator David Vitter (R-LA)! Too Funny!

    Make room for more of the Arrogance, Race-baiting, Crazy talking Sharron Angle, who else can Nevada elect?

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