Another one heads for the exit: Senator Ensign won’t seek reelection
UPDATES with Ensign announcement.
At this rate, the Senate will be overrun by freshmen in 2013.
Republican Senator John Ensign, once considered a potential presidential candidate in 2012, said he won’t seek reelection next year.
The decision comes nearly two years after he admitted to having an affair with a female staffer whose husband also worked for him.
“There are consequences to sin,” he said at a news conference in Las Vegas. Ensign said the campaign was likely to get especially “ugly” and he did not want to put his family through that.
Ensign becomes the third Senate Republican to announce he won’t seek reelection, following Assistant Senate Republican Leader Jon Kyl of Arizona and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas.
Five members of the Senate Democratic caucus have said that they won’t seek another term next year: Democrats Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, Jim Webb of Virginia, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico and independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
Democrats, who control the Senate 53-47, wasted no time in announcing their intention to go after the Nevada seat in next year’s election.
“Nevada is now an open seat, and ripe for a Democratic pickup. It remains high on our target list,” Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said. “Democrats will have the resources needed to win this seat and just as important, will build a grassroots organization that matches 2008 and 2010.”
Republicans swatted back.
“Next year’s Senate race in Nevada will now come down to a clear choice between two competing visions for our country … Republicans welcome this choice and I am confident we will successfully retain this seat as we work to win back a new Senate Republican majority,” Senator John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said.
Photo credit: Reuters/Sam Morris (Ensign at news conference about affair, June 16, 2009)