Nevada Senate: Ensign to Retire

Senator John Ensign (R-NV) “is expected to announce at an afternoon news conference in Las Vegas that he will retire rather than face a brutal 2012 re-election campaign, according to knowledgeable sources,” Roll Call reports.

Ensign, who has been embattled since revealing he had an affair with the wife of a former aide, was facing a possible primary challenge from Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.). Heller is now expected to run for the open Senate seat.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, Ensign “is not expected to resign his seat — simply not pursue re-election in 2012.”

Here’s how the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) responded in a press release today:

Guy Cecil, Executive Director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, released the following statement on Senator John Ensign’s decision to retire at the end of his term:

“Nevada is now an open seat, and ripe for a Democratic pickup. It remains high on our target list. Whoever Republicans field as their candidate will have a tough time holding onto this seat in a blue-trending state with President Obama at the top of the ticket. Democrats will have the resources needed to win this seat and just as important, will build a grassroots organization that matches 2008 and 2010.”

And Republicans:

U.S. Senator John Cornyn, Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), made the following statement regarding today’s announcement by U.S. Senator John Ensign and the Nevada Senate race next year:

“I thank Senator Ensign for his nearly two decades of public service.  Next year’s Senate race in Nevada will now come down to a clear choice between two competing visions for our country – between a Republican candidate who believes in smaller government, fiscal responsibility and creating good, private sector jobs, and a Democrat candidate who believes in keeping our country on the same reckless fiscal path of more government and higher taxes.  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.”

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