Jimmy Carter’s Son Jack Running for Senate

Jimmy Carter’s son, Jack, is strongly considering a bid for John Ensign’s Senate seat.

Son of former president to challenge Ensign in 2006 (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Jack Carter, the son of former President Carter, said Tuesday he plans to run against John Ensign for the U.S. Senate next year. Carter, 58, and his wife, Elizabeth, have lived in Las Vegas since 2003, operating the investment consulting firm Carter Global.

“I’m very seriously exploring it,” Carter said in an interview Tuesday. “I had not planned to run for office. I have no infrastructure and this is new to me.” Carter said he decided to run in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He said he was offended by the federal government’s response to the disaster. “I’m more concerned than ever with the way that the country is headed,” Carter said.

Sources told the Review-Journal that Carter will meet next week with Sen. Harry Reid’s staff to discuss the race. Reid, the Senate minority leader, has had a good working relationship with Ensign, the Republican completing his first term in office. Not only do the two senators’ staffs work closely on Nevada issues, the two have forged a solid and collegial relationship.
Although Ensign did technically offer an endorsement of GOP candidate Richard Ziser against Reid last year, he did not aggressively campaign against Reid. Reid has also reserved criticism of Ensign, whose 428-vote loss to Reid in a 1998 race showed his formidable statewide appeal.

Carter described himself as “a pragmatist.” “I think the federal government does some things better than the private sector,” Carter said. He said he is a social liberal with conservative Southern roots and a business background that taught him “you pay for what you spend.”

I don’t know much about Jack Carter but don’t think his father’s sins should be counted against him. Indeed, I’d say that he has inherited his father’s spirit of public service is commendable. Whatever my disagreements with Jimmy Carter–and they are many–he served several years as a naval officer, as governor, as president, and as a volunteer for good causes both at home and abroad.

My guess is Ensign will win easily, as he’s a competent Senator who represents the state well.

The collegial relationship between Reid and Ensign would not have been noteworthy 15-20 years ago. They’re both there to represent Nevadans in the Senate so it’s natural that their interests would generally overlap. Further, until he took over as Minority Leader, I had always thought of Reid as a moderate, both in ideological and personal terms. Unfortunately, he’s felt the need to play the role of firebrand since assuming the leadership mantle.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Herb says:

    “I am more concerned than ever the way that the country is headed”

    With a Carter in office, I would be concerned to.

  2. Jackson Landers says:

    Ensign was polling at 49% approval as of August. That ranked him 82nd among Senators for their approval in their home states. Not a good place to be going into an election.

    News for the Republican party has only gotten worse and worse since August. These indictments and investigations against their various leadership in the House, Senate and White House are going to result in the most visible emblems of the GOP being literally on trial for criminal behavior during the hottest part of the ’06 campaign season. No way this stuff will be wrapped up before then. The wind will not be at their backs in November of ’06.

    Ensign is very much vulnerable as is any Republican polling in the neighborhood of 50% or lower right now. All of these Senate races that would usually be considered close but safe are up for grabs. Either the Dems will pick up only 2 seats (PA & OH are as in-the-bag as they come) or it will be a sweep of 6 or more Senate pick-ups as these marginal guys like Ensign get pushed over the edge by GOP scandals and anger over the war. It all depends how how strong this wind blows. AZ, MO and TN are all strong chances for Dem pickups on top of OH & PA. RI will be a pickup if Chafee is defeated in the primary, which is pretty much up to Grover Norquist. ME is only safe right now because the Dems haven’t found a challenger. Look at the polls on all of these states and races. There’s big trouble a-brewin’.

    It’s Carter’s to lose. A generic, competant Democratic candidate of a stature similar to Ensign’s with good fundraising could undoubtably knock Ensign down. The question is whether Carter can meet that middlin’ standard or will he just be a bungling amateur who can’t get started. The best comparison with Carter at the moment is probably George W. Bush right before he ran for Governor. Everything is good on paper, he has the name of his one-term Daddy and can get all the money he needs. The question is whether he’s really equal to the opportunity before him.