Guy W. Farmer: Nevada Sen. Ensign should resign |

Guy W. Farmer: Nevada Sen. Ensign should resign

Guy W. Farmer
For the Nevada Appeal

Doug Hampton is right. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., should resign, and the sooner the better.

Ensign, who admitted to an affair with Hampton’s wife, announced Monday that he won’t run for a third term in 2012. Now he should take the next logical step by resigning from the Senate in order to spare himself, his family and Nevada voters another 22 months of political angst and embarrassment. Hampton, Ensign’s former chief of staff, called for the senator’s resignation on Wednesday, citing Ensign’s “callousness and lack of remorse.”

Ensign, currently under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee, said he decided against seeking a third term because he didn’t want to subject his family to an “exceptionally ugly campaign” to retain his senate seat. “I’m putting them (my family) first, instead of my career. … I have learned through the mistakes that I have made that there are consequences to sin,” he said in an obvious reference to his extra-marital affair with Cynthia Hampton.

Ensign’s wife and adult children were at his side last Monday as he announced his decision not to run for a third term, a sad scene that reminded me of when former New York Gov. Elliott Spitzer confessed to cavorting with call girls as his mute wife stood forlornly by his side.

The admirable exception to these depressing scenes was Jenny Sanford, the ex-wife of former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who dumped him when he went off to Buenos Aires to spend a few days with his Argentine “soul mate.” Pathetic! Perhaps Henry Kissinger was right when he said that power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Anyway, back to Sen. Ensign and what’s left of his second term. If he hangs on for another 22 months, he’ll be a non-player with zero credibility in the Senate. Nevada deserves better and that’s why he should step down immediately so that his successor can build up some seniority and start campaigning for a full six-year term next year. And who will Gov. Brian Sandoval appoint to succeed Ensign? The odds-on favorite is U.S. Rep. Dean Heller, of Carson City, who is only slightly more conservative than Sandoval, a moderate Republican.

We already know that Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle is lurking on the sidelines after losing to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., last November. She’d like the senate appointment of course, but if she loses out to Heller you can bet that she’ll run for his Northern Nevada House seat next year. I’d like to see Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, another mainstream Republican, enter that race.

On the Democratic side of the ledger, ultra-liberal U.S. Rep. Shelly Berkley, of Las Vegas, is almost certain to run for Ensign’s Senate seat in 2012. I shudder to think of what kind of representation we’d have with both Reid and Ms. Berkley in the Senate – two “progressive” Democrats representing a center-right state. We need better balance than that.

• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, has followed Nevada politics for nearly 50 years.