John Ensign Retirement Announcement Imminent? UPDATE: Confirmed

Posted: Mar 07, 2011 1:39 PM
Is another Senate retirement on the horizon, this time from the GOP side of the aisle?  Nevada Senator John Ensign is scheduled to make a public statement about his political future within minutes:

Nevada Sen. John Ensign is scheduled to announce plans on what his office is calling his "political future" Monday in Las Vegas.  Sen. Ensign is slated to make an announcement at a news conference at the George Federal Courthouse at 12 p.m.

Ensign admitted to an extramarital affair with a former staffer in 2009.  As Jim Geraghty points out, Ensign's Republican primary numbers are faltering, so he very well may be bowing out of the race. 

Stay tuned.

UPDATE -  Roll Call reports Ensign is, indeed, planning to retire from the Senate rather than seek an uphill re-election battle:

Sen. John Ensign is expected to announce at an afternoon news conference in Las Vegas that he will retire rather than face a brutal 2012 re-election campaign, according to knowledgeable sources.

The Nevada Republican, who has been embattled since revealing he had an affair with the wife of a former aide, was facing a possible primary challenge from Rep. Dean Heller (R). Heller is now expected to run for the open Senate seat.

The 2012 Senate picture is going to be wild, with Republicans in striking distance of a majority, and veterans dropping like flies.

UPDATE II - NRSC Chairman Sen. John Cornyn responds to Ensign's impending departure:

“I thank Senator Ensign for his nearly two decades of public service.  Next year’s Senate race in Nevada will now come down to a clear choice between two competing visions for our country – between a Republican candidate who believes in smaller government, fiscal responsibility and creating good, private sector jobs, and a Democrat candidate who believes in keeping our country on the same reckless fiscal path of more government and higher taxes.  Republicans welcome this choice and I am confident we will successfully retain this seat as we work to win back a new Senate Republican majority.”

UPDATE III - Nevada's preeminent political analyst (who correctly predicted Harry Reid would beat Sharron Angle) thinks Democrats are kidding themselves if they're banking on picking off this seat next year:

@RalstonFlash RT @StuPolitics: DSCC making lemonade out of Ensign move ("ripe" pick-up). Sorry, it's still a lemon. Chart: /Yep.

UPDATE IV:  Another Senate vacancy just got even more competitive.  Respected former Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) has just announced her intention to vie for Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman's open seat next year.  She was introduced and endorsed at her rally by former Senator Pete Domenici.