I live in Nevada. Today one of my two senators, Senator John Ensign, announced that he is resigning and will leave the Senate in early May.
This announcement unleashes a major political storm, mostly because his likely replacement is my representative, Dean Heller. If Nevada’s Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, appoints Heller to replace Ensign, as he is widely expected to do, that means a special election in my district in a couple of months. And *that* means Sharron Angle, again. :/ You remember Angle — the upstart Republican challenger in 2010 to Nevada’s senior (and widely loathed) Senator Harry Reid who lost an election that any other Republican candidate would almost certainly have won.
The problem is that Angle has both money and name recognition, key success factors in American politics. Worse, in my mostly conservative and severely hurting Congressional district (almost 14% unemployment), a bunch of cranky voters would really love to stick it to Congress, the local Republican party machine, and anybody else who asks them to look beyond their personal pain. That Angle’s loss in 2010 suggests that she might not be electable in the general election might not matter. This district doesn’t include much of Clark County; subtract Clark County from Nevada and that gets rid of most of the Democrats and liberals of any stripe. You’re left with a conservative/libertarian district leavened by a good number of equally cranky independents. That Angle ‘s record in the Nevada legislature and 2010 Senate campaign both suggest that she would be something between completely ineffective and a disaster if she actually gets into Congress might also not matter. I have this lead lump in my gut suggesting to me that she might actually win.
Despite this, however, my main reaction to this announcement is “about d*mn time.” I’m a political independent. Most of my political views are far afield from those of Senator Ensign, but my negative reaction to Ensign is almost purely personal. It’s one thing to have a one-night stand with somebody you met in a bar, or a prostitute. It’s another thing to have an affair with a friend’s wife. It’s even worse to have that affair when your wife was friends with the woman. Add to that extortion by your former friend, and two years of efforts to save your career rather than rebuild your marriage, and…. I don’t get this guy. I wouldn’t get him no matter what his politics. He’s just *wrong*.
With him leaving, I feel cleaner. I suspect many in Nevada do. So maybe this is for the best: we can elect a new Senator in 2012 without the shadow of this sort of completely personal sleaze.