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Knives Out For Ensign

The troubles of Sen. John Ensign have finally dawned on Republican leaders in Nevada. They realize that having a corrupt, indicted leader at a time when they’re trying to take down the state’s Democratic Senator with candidates who have embraced that same indicted figure would be devastating. So gradually, they’re backing away from Ensign.

Rep. Dean Heller kicked off what looked to be a coordinated effort today.

U.S. Rep. Dean Heller stopped short of calling for U.S. Sen. John Ensign’s resignation, but he said Wednesday his fellow Republican’s ethical woes are dragging him down and could end up harming the state’s GOP candidates in the fall.

“The fact we have a wounded junior senator, yeah, it is cause for concern,” Heller said.

“Will it have impact up and down the ticket for Republicans this fall? I think there is the potential for that happening,” he said on KRNV-TV’s “Nevada Newsmakers.”

Heller went so far as to say that he thought a “stronger voice” was needed in Washington, and that he declined to challenge Harry Reid because he feared the Ensign fallout would bring him down.

Similarly, two former Clark County GOP officials openly called for Ensign’s resignation. Clark County includes Las Vegas and the majority of the population of Nevada.

We are on the verge of great victory come November, but the most long awaited victory can quickly slip through our grasp unless we immediately put the focus back on conservative issues. We call on all true conservative Republican leaders and activists to speak out now for the resignation of Senator Ensign.

There is no uprising by Republicans to fight the barrage of anti-Ensign media. Nobody is coming to his rescue. Only a small handful of Republican candidates have even sought his endorsement.

Nor are the elected Republican leaders in Washington throwing any lifeline to Senator Ensign. While they are not publicly calling for his resignation, they are not supporting Ensign either. Let’s all stop ignoring the problem. The only way the Ensign-problem for the GOP will go away is if enough of us call for his resignation.

I suspect this will only get louder in subsequent days. The Nevada GOP is in serious self-preservation mode. This has less to do with Ensign’s conduct, which is deplorable, and more to do with the threat to victory in November. For that reason alone, Ensign may actually be held accountable for his conduct, a rare thing in the GOP.

…Atrios is absolutely right, it’s downright bizarre that nobody in the media seems to care about the Ensign scandal.

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David Dayen

David Dayen