Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011 | 5:17 a.m.
Rep. Dean Heller all but telegraphed his intention to run against Sen. John Ensign by taking a poll to gauge his viability and discovering he leads Ensign by 53-38. The survey, taken last month, is the strongest indication yet that Heller will take on Ensign – otherwise, I would not have these results because if he were not running, these numbers would never have seen the light of day. He took a poll to gauge his competitiveness, and these results have to have thrilled him.
“I am taking a serious look at the race for U.S. Senate,” Heller said in a statement reacting to the poll. “I will announce my decision in the very near future.”
That statement alone ought to be enough to freeze some money that otherwise would have gone to Ensign. As Heller ramps up his campaign, Ensign may still get to a couple of million – he is on Finance – but the dirge is getting louder.
The poll is disastrous for Ensign, as you can see from the polling memo from The Tarrance Group I have posted at right. Ensign’s support has disintegrated, including in Clark County, where Republicans who know both candidates still favor Heller. Heller doesn’t just dominate Ensign, but because he has the conservative vote nearly locked, he also wins easily in a multi-way field.
Remember, too, the survey was taken before the Senate Ethics Committee announced the appointment of a special counsel, so this actually may be a high water mark for the senator. He may think he has stanched the bleeding, but no tourniquet exists that will stop him from exsanguination.
Will Ensign still run? How to predict the actions of one who seems willing to put his own delusions ahead of family, friends, party and country? Hard to see what would dissuade him outside of the ethics panel clobbering him, money drying up or a conscience being implanted.
Oh, and that other sound you hear is Sharron Angle preparing to announce for Heller’s seat….