Harry Reid vs. John Ensign, Round Two, in 2008
by Gary Kilbride, Thu Nov 09, 2006 at 08:38:34 PM EST
Democrats taking over senate control sets up an intriguing rematch, of sorts, in 2008.
I'm not sure it's well known that John Ensign of Nevada is slated to be chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, meaning he'll be in charge of raising cash, recruiting candidates, and in general directed to reclaim the senate.
That puts Ensign head up against Reid, trying to oust Reid as majority leader. The two faced each other in 1998, a stride for stride race with incumbent Reid holding on by roughly 400 votes, including a long statewide hand recount, paid for by the GOP before punch card recounts were equal protection atrocity.
Ensign and Reid have had a working agreement after Ensign won the other Nevada senate seat in 2000, when Richard Bryan retired. They don't attack each other, or campaign heavily against one another. Obviously the 2008 scenario puts a strain on that and sets up a fascinating variable; do Republican candidates attack Reid and use him as a reason to vote for GOP senate control, in campaigns designed by Ensign and his top consultant? No doubt that partially depends on public impression of senate performance the next two years, and how Reid is viewed.
Toting the consultant along is the factor that concerns me, much more than Ensign in charge. Mike Slanker directed victories for Ensign, Jon Porter (NV-3) and Dean Heller (NV-2) this year. I've mentioned many times on MyDD, and elsewhere, that Republican campaigns and commercials in Nevada this cycle were distressingly impressive, far superior to what I was viewing nationally. A mixture of memorable sound bites and vicious attacks, with some humor in Ensign's case, since he wasn't seriously challenged.
Progressive sites and pundits in general have a remarkable habit of underestimating John Ensign. I won't put too much emphasis on the guy in charge, as opposed to the candidates and races themselves, but overall I'd much rather stage a rematch against Elizabeth Dole and her brilliant consultants.
I suppose it's possible Reid could step down as majority leader before 2008. Or announce he wouldn't hold that position beyond 2008. But I'll comfortably label those as extreme longshots. I expect Reid to seek another term in 2010, possibly against Jon Porter, the logical GOP nominee.