Breaking: John Ensign to resign tomorrow

posted at 7:05 pm on April 21, 2011 by Allahpundit

He announced last month that he wouldn’t seek reelection in 2012 but added that he’d finish out his term. Now, suddenly, a change of plans. I wonder who knocked on his door.

Sources confirmed this afternoon that embattled U.S. Sen. John Ensign will resign from office on Friday, opening the door for Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval to appoint Rep. Dean Heller to finish out the term.

If Heller is appointed, it would give him a strategic leg up as an incumbent against his presumed opponent in the 2012 Senate race, Democrat Rep. Shelley Berkley. Berkley is still expected to run.

Either that Senate ethics investigation has taken yet another turn and he expects even more embarrassing revelations are on the way or someone in the GOP made him a lucrative post-Senate offer in order to speed things up and clear the way for Heller. Heller had already announced his candidacy for Ensign’s seat and is currently the favorite in the race, but in a purple state with an open seat and Obama at the top of the ticket, there’s no sense taking chances and waiting until 2012. Same goes for the House seat that Heller will now vacate (and which Sharron Angle has expressed interest in). It’s in a red district, granted, but better to put it on the block now and try to lock in another Republican than to risk a battle over a vacancy after another 18 months of Democratic “Mediscaring.”

The big loser here, notes Dan “Baseball Crank” McLaughlin: Grassroots conservatives who might have been hoping to primary Heller. I think that was a small-ish risk given his sterling poll numbers and the fact that tea partiers seem more attuned to electability now (especially in Nevada!), but the point is well taken. Exit question: Er, does this maneuver of appointing a Senator in order to make his path to election easier actually work? Nate Silver says … nope.

Update: Idle thought: Does the coming debt-ceiling struggle in the Senate and House have something to do with the timing here? Heller’s vote will be under a stronger microscope in the smaller upper chamber, but it might actually matter less than if he was still in the House. Remember that McConnell and other Republican leaders might decide to support cloture on the debt-ceiling vote and then let Democrats own it with a party-line simple-majority vote on the final bill. If that’s what ends up happening (and assuming Reid can find seven Republicans willing to vote for cloture), Heller’s vote won’t matter. In the House, though, every vote will matter. There’s nowhere to hide, even in a crowd of 435.


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Now if only Democrats were as willing to resign when under investigation.

Doughboy on April 21, 2011 at 7:09 PM

The former commander of the USS Cole announced last week that he is running for Heller’s House seat. Does anyone know the procedure for a special House election in NV? Is there a primary?

Mark1971 on April 21, 2011 at 7:10 PM

My, my somthing that might come forth here really bad? Can john still be hold accountable?
L

letget on April 21, 2011 at 7:12 PM

Thank you, Senator Ensign, for joining that august company of politicians who have done their level best to destroy the Republican party through their own selfish and possibly pathological conduct.

cynccook on April 21, 2011 at 7:13 PM

Kirk Lippold, former commander of the USS Cole, to challenge Sharron Angle in Nevada primary

http://dailycaller.com/2011/04/14/kirk-lippold-former-commander-of-the-uss-cole-to-challenge-sharron-angle-in-nevada-primary/

Mark1971 on April 21, 2011 at 7:13 PM

Exit question: Er, does this maneuver of appointing a Senator in order to make his path to election easier actually work? Nate Silver says … nope.

Yes. It worked for Mike Bennett here in Colorado. :(

CliffHanger on April 21, 2011 at 7:13 PM

Good move.

This clears the way for a non-scandalous incumbent who has a better chance now.

amerpundit on April 21, 2011 at 7:14 PM

Who?

/

Seven Percent Solution on April 21, 2011 at 7:14 PM

Good. I was praying that he’d do the right thing so the governor could appoint the replacement. Announcing so soon must mean this exit was planned & coordinated. I hope at least so.

AH_C on April 21, 2011 at 7:14 PM

So when are Rangle and Waters leaving?

How about Feinstein?

GarandFan on April 21, 2011 at 7:17 PM

About time.

neoavatara on April 21, 2011 at 7:17 PM

Mediscaring..Good term for the Democrats Allah!..:)

Dire Straits on April 21, 2011 at 7:17 PM

The ethics investigation focuses in part on some $96,000 Ensign’s parents gave to the Hamptons, which Ensign’s attorney has characterized as a gift.

repvoter on April 21, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Chris Dodd redux…sort of.

SouthernGent on April 21, 2011 at 7:28 PM

Thank you, Senator Ensign, for joining that august company of politicians who have done their level best to destroy the Republican party through their own selfish and possibly pathological conduct.

cynccook on April 21, 2011 at 7:13 PM

THIS !!!

PappyD61 on April 21, 2011 at 7:33 PM

Doughboy on April 21, 2011 at 7:09 PM

Democrats do not resign when a scandal is revealed, they circle the wagons around their scumbags (i.e. Rangel, William Jefferson Clinton). It is always the GOP that makes it a point to show them the door.

simkeith on April 21, 2011 at 8:21 PM

I have this conversation ALL the time wih the liberal water carriers on my local rag’s comment section. Why don’t they primary their corrupt scum?

piglet on April 21, 2011 at 8:24 PM

IMHO, this will give Heller a HUGE leg up on the 2012 race in terms of seniority.

Considering all the retirements, this will put him ahead of at least 7 Senators in the upcoming class.

Add in Herb Kohl’s potential retirement and additional vulnerable seats like Ohio (Brown), Missouri (McCaskill), Nebraska (Nelson), Indiana (Luger), etc., and he could end up jumping in front of something like 15 Senators in the upcoming class.

teke184 on April 21, 2011 at 8:50 PM

What is it that Ensign is alleged to have done? I saw this story over at NRO and their post does not have this information either.

gh on April 21, 2011 at 9:15 PM

Kirk Lippold is a stand-up guy. We were classmates at Annapolis.

Khun Joe on April 21, 2011 at 9:22 PM

Now if only Democrats were as willing to resign when under investigation.

Doughboy on April 21, 2011 at 7:09 PM

Like Eric Massa, Eliot Spitzer, James McGreevey, etc? No one wants to step down and there are plenty of examples of Republicans who didn’t resign after being caught up in a scandal (Larry Craig comes to mind as a perfect example). It’s an ego thing, not party thing.

jonknee on April 21, 2011 at 9:30 PM

What is it that Ensign is alleged to have done? I saw this story over at NRO and their post does not have this information either.

gh on April 21, 2011 at 9:15 PM

He banged his help’s wife and then had his rich dad pay him off to make it go away.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampton_scandal

jonknee on April 21, 2011 at 9:33 PM

While I think the basic premise is right, that there is little advantage to the early appointment, I think Mr Silver over states the case when he says only 19 of 49 held on to the position at election time.

He points out in passing that 10 of those 49 did not run for the office. While some of those might have been because they knew reelection was hopeless, It does need to be considered. As well as the 5 cases he also mentioned of Governors appointing themselves( all lost). If you look at the previous positions held by the appointees, this with good national credentials tended to hold the post.

OBQuiet on April 21, 2011 at 9:33 PM

Ensign and James Brolin – separated at birth?

echosyst on April 21, 2011 at 9:44 PM

He banged his help’s wife and then had his rich dad pay him off to make it go away.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampton_scandal

jonknee on April 21, 2011 at 9:33 PM

THAT’S an ethics violation? WTF?

Lanceman on April 21, 2011 at 9:47 PM

Like Eric Massa, Eliot Spitzer, James McGreevey, etc? No one wants to step down and there are plenty of examples of Republicans who didn’t resign after being caught up in a scandal (Larry Craig comes to mind as a perfect example). It’s an ego thing, not party thing.

jonknee on April 21, 2011 at 9:30 PM

FULL DISCLOSURE: Eric Massa (D-NY and former Congressman) is my Annapolis classmate as well. Same with Chip Cravaack (R-MN) and Kirk Lippold (wants to become R-NV). Who knew my class would become so “political”?!

Khun Joe on April 21, 2011 at 10:32 PM

Hopefully, Heller is at least a First Lieutenant.

Lanceman on April 21, 2011 at 10:37 PM

Ensign wanted to stick it out. His failings were moral, and unethical on a moral level, but not against any law. He was already cleared by FEC and DOJ and thought he could quietly finish his term since he’s leaving anyway. But the Senate Ethics Committee keeps pursuing it, meaning he has legal bills and his personal life is under even more stress.

Resigning makes it stop. Congressional Ethics Committees have no jurisdiction at all over former members, only sitting ones.

Adjoran on April 22, 2011 at 2:30 AM

Exit question: Er, does this maneuver of appointing a Senator in order to make his path to election easier actually work? Nate Silver says … nope.

Yes. It worked for Mike Bennett here in Colorado. :(

CliffHanger on April 21, 2011 at 7:13 PM

But only by the use of thousands of fraudulent votes.

Slowburn on April 22, 2011 at 4:55 AM

But the Senate Ethics Committee keeps pursuing it, meaning he has legal bills and his personal life is under even more stress.

Adjoran on April 22, 2011 at 2:30 AM

With a billionaire dad who’s fine with paying off your mistress, I don’t think the legal bills were an issue.

jonknee on April 22, 2011 at 12:29 PM