Ensign, Exit Stage Right
John Ensign (R-NV) declared earlier this week that he did not intend to run for his Senate seat in 2012. Probably a wise decision given the investigations into his philandering and subsequent cover-up. It would likely be messy and as Nate pointed out in his article at the New York Times, Ensign’s approval ratings mean that he likely wouldn’t survive the primary against US Representative Dean Heller. The question still remains as to whether Sharron Angle will get involved in a primary with Heller, but he is still considered the favourite to win.
But what of the Democratic side of the equation? Congresswoman Shelley Berkley from Nevada’s 1st congressional district is very popular, and has mentioned running for the seat. She would have to give up her seat on the Ways and Means Committee, however, but she recognizes that a Senate seat would be a plus, telling the local CBS affiliate, “I think it would be disingenuous if I said I wasn’t looking at it, and I am looking at it.”
According to The Hill website, she has assurances that other top-tier potentials: Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, and State Treasurer Kate Marshall, will not run against her should she decide to go for it. Businessman Byron Georgiou has already declared to run for the seat but isn’t expected to beat Berkeley.
Although Nevada has slowly been turning bluer, it is still a very conservative state, in a Goldwater sense. A match up between Heller and Berkley would be intense, and the Republican Party is not going to give up this seat without a fight. Berkley is a very gregarious, on the ground kind of politician. She plans to spend time in the northern part of the state meeting constituents before she makes her decision to run. Heller is from the Reno area and it’s unclear how he will play with Las Vegas
Expect this to be an intense race with the Democrats putting in a lot of effort to pick up this seat. As Las Vegas is very involved with the SEIU, it remains to be seen what influence the union busting shenanigans in Wisconsin will have on this race. I’m calling it lean Democrat.
- Dems ramp up efforts in Ensign race (politico.com)
- John Ensign Becomes 8th Senator to Announce Retirement (news.firedoglake.com)
- NV-Sen: Ensign in trouble, Heller looks strong (dailykos.com)