Normally, you would think that the resignation of a Republican legislator coming up for re-election would be great news for the Democratic challenger, right?
But when John Ensign (R, Nev.) announced yesterday that he was stepping down before a Senate ethics investigation could be completed, the Democrats in the Silver State were not exactly popping the champagne corks.
That's because Ensign, the fellow who had an affair with campaing aide Cindy Hampton and tried to steer lobbying business to Hampton's hubby (keeping it all in the family, how nice), would have been an easy target for the opposition. The guy with the snow on the roof has now cleared the way for the Republican governor to appoint Rep. Dean Heller to the seat, giving the GOP an incumbent in 2012.
That hissing sound you hear is the air leaking out of the Dems' celebratory balloons. No Ensign means no adulterous Republican to kick around next year. It also means that the Democrats are going to have to come up with a real strategy, and not just fall back on the old 'he's a two-timing creep and, unlike our own two-timing creeps, he's a conservative!'
That's going to be hard in a state where Sharron Angle gave Harry Reid a run for his money last year.
So Ensign's resignation is no great loss for the GOP. In fact, it may just turn out to be his most felicitous gift to the party.