Embattled Ensign Another Reason Why Nevada Needs Reid

State Can’t Afford Team Angle-Ensign’s Brand of “Leadership”

Nevadans know that when it comes to fighting for our state no one is more equipped than Sen. Harry Reid.  As the Majority Leader of the United States Senate he is making Nevada the leader in clean energy, helping struggling businesses and homeowners, working to get our economy back on track and protecting Nevada from becoming the nation’s nuclear waste dumping ground.

But now more than ever – with Nevada’s junior senator a walking political corpse – it’s crucial that we return Sen. Reid to Washington.

John Ensign has become a virtual pariah in Washington after revealing he had a lengthy affair with a campaign staffer who was married to his best friend and chief of staff in the Senate...and that his parents paid the couple $96,000 in hush money. Ensign is now under investigation by the Justice Department and the Senate Ethics Committee, was forced to resign his Republican leadership position and has lost any clout he once wielded in Washington even in the extremely unlikely event he were reelected in 2012.

The Washington Post pointed out the importance to Nevada of reelecting Reid, a senator who can deliver for our great but small state:

“Nevada's other Senator, i.e., Ensign, is fast losing his influence because of the scandals that have been dogging him. He recently admitted to an extramarital affair with a staffer, and since then, new revelations have left him increasingly isolated within the Senate.

“In other words, if Reid were to lose, both Senators from Nevada could be largely ineffective when it comes to wielding power in D.C.”

The last time Nevada had two freshman senators serving in Washington, the senate passed 1987’s “Screw Nevada Bill,” which slated the state for the nation’s dangerous nuclear dump.

“Now more than ever Nevada needs Sen. Reid – who is working to create jobs, keep people in their homes and turn our economy around – fighting for us in Washington,” said Phoebe Sweet, communications director with the Nevada State Democratic Party. “What we don’t need is the deadly combination of a lame-duck besieged by ethics complaints and legal troubles and an extremist whose dangerous views including killing Social Security and Medicare, axing the Department of Education and giving Big Oil free rein to commit environmental atrocities. Nevada can’t afford Team Angle-Ensign’s brand of supposed leadership.”

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Rep. Dean Heller told political commentator Jon Ralston that “It's not a bad thing for Nevadans to have clout in Congress... I think it's good to have leadership, whether they're Republicans or Democrats here in Nevada, in Washington, D.C.’” [Ralston Flash, 8/12/09] He also took a full 14 seconds of dead air to say whether he would campaign for Reid’s opponent, after announcing that he wouldn’t run for Reid’s seat. “Question: Do you think it would be best for Nevada if Sen. Reid were defeated? Silence for 14 seconds. ‘Um. My position is that I'm going to support the Republican candidate. If we have a viable Republican candidate, that is going to be my position. So I think that speaks for itself,’ Heller said.” [Reno Gazette-Journal, “Inside Nevada Politics,” 8/11/09]

Review-Journal publisher Sherm Frederick called Reid “Nevada's most powerful politician in Washington -- ever. He's the champion of mining, one of Nevada's most important industries. He'll come in pretty damn handy in a knife fight with other states over Colorado River water. (He is 50 feet tall, after all.) And, lest we forget, he's a decent guy who loves his family and his state.” [http://www.lvrj.com/opinion/harry-reid-comes-home-91350349.html]

The Reno News & Review said, “Nevadans may have lost something through the affair when Ensign stepped down as chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. This is a small state, and leadership positions—particularly in policy-setting committees—give Nevadans greater influence.” [Reno News & Review, Editorial, 6/25/09]

When Ensign returned to Washington after admitting his affair, his diminished clout was immediately evident when he failed to deliver all but a single Republican vote on the Travel Promotion Act, a bill that will create 6,000 Nevada jobs this year and that initially failed on a party line vote. The Washington Post reported that, “Ensign (R-Nev.) made a not-so-grand return to Washington this week for his first Senate vote since admitting he had an extramarital affair with a campaign aide. Even though he bucked his party to protect his home state's interests, Ensign still emerged from hiding a loser, unable to attract enough Republican support to pass a tourism promotion bill he co-authored with Nevada colleague Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Ensign had just one Republican - Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida - supporting his effort.” [Washington Post, The Sleuth, 6/23/09]

And Politico.com reported in March that the “Embattled Republican John Ensign is showing no signs of giving up his Senate seat, but the persistent drip of information about his sex scandal has some colleagues and top Republican aides asking quietly whether he can serve effectively. The Nevada Republican admitted in June that he’d had an affair with an aide. But rather than putting the problem behind him, the admission was just the first in a long series of damaging revelations that have left other senators wary of working too closely with him — a significant problem in a clubby body in which success depends on building relationships with other members.” [Politico, 3/15/10]

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