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.