I went to high school with Senator John Ensign. He was one of the really cute and popular kids. In adulthood, I came to know his wife casually through our mutual work on a couple of community breast cancer-related projects. Decent enough folks. Seemed sincere about bettering humanity and wanting to serve the community. Both of them have ridiculously gorgeous hair and three really cute kids together.
Fast forward many years later to today when we got the news that Ensign is resigning his senate seat effective May 3, 2011. At first glance, his retirement announcement might seem like he finally gets it, that he acknowledges his actions were unbecoming the office he represents and his resignation is a fitting and just consequence. But no, that’s not what it’s about. Ensign has been under tremendous pressure to resign for over a year and steadfastly refused to step down. He’s been “committed to the good people of Nevada”…..”done nothing wrong…”and “will continue to fulfill my obligation…..” and blah, blah, blah. So the question on inquiring minds is, why now?
In a word: politics.
Congressman Dean Heller (R-NV) and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) had already declared their intent to run for Ensign’s vacated senate seat. Berkley is in a strong Democratic region, Heller is in a strong Republican region. Nevada’s governor, Brian Sandoval is a Republican who is likely to appoint Heller to replace Ensign, in effect, gifting him the seat he already intended to run for. Should that happen, Heller would have 18 months under his belt as a senator and have a tremendous advantage over Shelley Berkley in the 2012 election cycle.
If Heller is appointed to Ensign’s seat, then his former congressional seat would have to be filled by a special election. In such cases, the state’s Democratic and Republican central committees would each nominate one candidate.
Along comes Sharron Angle, who has already announced her intent to run for Heller’s vacated congressional seat.
Add to the mix a new congressional seat as a result of redistricting. It’s a bloody free-for-all.
Even though Ensign should be the one scandalized, it would appear that he’s the one getting the last laugh on us. Although I’m sure he had help he played this gig like a fiddle. Dean Heller and Sharron Angle will be our curse to bear.
At the end of the day, Ensign was a party loyalist through and through. This was perfectly staged and executed to give the Republicans the best advantage possible.
Ensign, you had a chance to pull this one out and do the right and honorable thing. You chose to compensate your party but not your constituents. You pulled the scoop of the decade. Damn you Ensign, you’re a dirt bag. And I just don’t care how cute you were in high school anymore.