John Ensign To Resign From Senate

Nevada Senator John Ensign, who had previously announced that he wasn’t running for re-election, is resigning from the Senate:

Embattled Nevada Sen. John Ensign (R) announced Thursday night that he will resign from office in early May, a move that comes amid an ongoing ethics investigation into his conduct.

“While I stand behind my firm belief that I have not violated any law, rule, or standard of conduct of the Senate, and I have fought to prove this publicly, I will not continue to subject my family, my constituents, or the Senate to any further rounds of investigation, depositions, drawn out proceedings, or especially public hearings,” Ensign said in a statement posted on his website. “For my family and me, this continued personal cost is simply too great.”

Ensign’s resignation, which was first reported by Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston, will be official on May 3 and comes six weeks after he announced his plans to retire at the end of his current term, which expires in 2012.

His departure comes as the Senate ethics committee is conducting an ongoing investigation into his handling of an affair with a former political aide — whose husband was also a top legislative aide to the senator.

The political impact of Ensign’s decision would seem to be in the GOP’s favor:

Ensign’s resignation will allow newly elected Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) to appoint an interim replacement until the 2012 election next November.

Rep. Dean Heller, a Republican who is running to succeed Ensign, is the clear frontrunner for the appointment and would almost certainly benefit politically from spending the next year as the incumbent senator from the Silver State.

Democrats are likely to face a primary with Rep. Shelley Berkley and wealthy businessman Byron Georgiou both in the race.

If Heller is named to the Senate, there will be a special election to replace him in the sprawling 2nd district, which takes in much of the northern, rural counties of the state.

Sandoval would have seven days from the time he appointed someone to declare a vacancy in the 2nd district. The special election must be held within 180 days of that declaration.

Sharron Angle has already announced that she would be running for Heller’s seat in 2012, so she would likely run in a special election as well.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Ron Paul says:

    Remember when the GOP stood for balanced budgets, individual freedom and isolationism.

    The Republican Party has run up these deficits, we want the federal government to be in our bedrooms and between our women and their doctors, we started two wars instead of ending them like the Korean War and were supposed to stop the Vietnam War the Democrats started. We have lost our way!

    So why waste our time with these fools who use their racist rhetoric, like this Marilyn Davenport and Donald Trump with his birther unproven myth, why keep Ensign, why do we allow our Fox news people to keep talking down our country. Don’t they know we can win the next election with optimism and hope instead of the current rhetoric, that the sky is falling, if we are not careful we will end up like chicken little where no one will listen to us.

  2. Tsar Nicholas says:

    If Ensign would have learned to keep it in his pants he might have had a bright political future. I hope for his sake she was worth it.