Who Would Replace Senator Ensign? - Updated
The recent news that Senator John Ensign's parents gave his mistress a “gift” of nearly a $100,000 puts his career in jeopardy. It should not be long before a Senate Ethics Committee, Federal Election Commission, and/or Justice Department investigation is launched.
If Senator Ensign resigns or is forced out of office, who would take his seat? According to Nevada law, an interim senator would be appointed by the governor until the 2010 general election.
This would give the embattled and unbelievably unpopular Jim Gibbons the power to appoint a senator. This should prove to be very interesting to say the least. Picture a Republican version of the Governor Blagojevich/Senator Burris appointment.
The single biggest winner from this scandal could turn out to be Senator Harry Reid. He is up for reelection in 2010 and has weak poll numbers. It is likely that any Nevada Republican hoping to become a senator would prefer to run in the special election instead of challenging the well funded Harry Reid.
The special election could also be a boon to Harry Reid's son, Rory Reid. He is currently the Chairman of the Clark County Commission and laying the ground work for a possible run for Governor in 2010. He might be persuaded to try and join his father in the Senate if there is a special election. At the very least, the special election could have the same benefit for Rory Reid as his father. Republicans thinking about a gubernatorial campaign might choose to run in the special election instead of challenging Rory Reid for the governorship.
Update - The bad news for Senator Ensign keeps on coming. I'm looking for a combined total of all the extra money Ensign funneled to his mistress's family. That includes from raises, job for her son, job for her husband, severance, family "gifts", etc. My ballpark figure puts it in the hundreds of thousands.