Sen. John Ensign will announce within the next 24 hours that he plans to resign from the Senate, according to a well-placed source... Ensign's resignation comes amid continuing fallout from the scandal involving his affair with Cynthia Hampton, a campaign staff member married to Ensign's former senior aide, Doug Hampton.Ensign wasn't planning on running for re-election in 2012 anyway, and his position in the Senate will be filled by gubernatorial appointment, not a special election. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, who defeated Harry Reid's son Rory in the 2010 Nevada election, will be the one to make that appointment.
As far as pure electoral politics goes, this might be a win for the GOP. Incumbency is a powerful force in Congressional elections, and having an incumbent, as opposed to a wide-open (and likely difficult) 2012 Nevada Senate race could be a good thing. The downside is, of course, that this casts an ethical shadow across the GOP in general. It's not that the Democrats are the 'clean' ethical party, but the most-recent-scandal is always prominent in voters' minds.