Ensign sets goal of raising $1 million by July

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Sen. John Ensign, whose fundraising came to a virtual halt after his 2009 disclosure of an affair with a former campaign aide, says he has set a goal of raising at least $1 million by July for his 2012 re-election campaign.

The Republican told Nevada Public Radio that his ability to compete financially for the race would become clearer by mid-year after he steps up his fundraising efforts.

"I'd love to raise at least a million dollars between now and the end of June. I think that would be a healthy number," Ensign said.

Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., has said he's considering challenging Ensign in the primary. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., also has expressed an interest in the race.

As of Sept. 30, Ensign had only $280,000 cash available in his campaign account for a race that could cost $10 million or more, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

By comparison, Berkley has at least $1.1 million on hand and Heller had $855,412 available, according to federal records.

A report updating Ensign's campaign finances is due at the end of January.

The second-term senator is trying to put behind him the affair with staffer Cynthia Hampton, wife of Ensign's co-chief of staff, Doug Hampton. Ensign faces an inquiry from the Senate Ethics Committee, but the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission dropped their own investigations late last year.

Ensign said he began reaching out to fundraising allies, and was in the process of scheduling events.

Asked about his ability to raise money, Ensign said, "just make a judgment based on the end of June... and I will let you guys make the decision how well I fund-raise. I think we will be very, very successful."


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