Thursday, May 28, 2009

Divining Ensign (and Hutchison) through Sotomayor

Chris Cillizza says Nevada Sen. John Ensign has a risky balancing act.

Will he put all his chips on the table, or will he call it a night?

Ensign has publicly acknowledged an interest in running for president, which will be formalized by his trip to Iowa next week. That interest would suggest Ensign might be one of the leading voices in opposition to Sotomayor.

But, Ensign also represents a state where one in every five residents is Hispanic, a number sure to increase by the time the Nevada Republican is set to stand for reelection in 2012.

How Ensign positions himself on Sotomayor then will tell us much about how he sees his political future. Does he hold back on criticizing her in order to preserve his chances at another Senate term? Or does he go all-out in opposition to Sotomayor to raise his national profile and prove his conservative chops to Republican activists who have an outsized say in the identity of the next presidential nominee?

Another Senator to watch, says Manu Raju, is Kay Bailey Hutchison, who's got a similarly significant Hispanic population and primary to attend to.

Burnt Orange Report is watching Kay with baited-breath, and shows some fair-mindedness.

Hutchison, you may recall, voted against Sotomayor when she was nominated to the 2nd Circuit in 1998. She was one of 29 Senators, all Republican, to oppose the nomination. So it would not be shocking for her to vote against her now.

Wow. That opens the door to non-demagoguery on interpreting Kay's vote. Must jump to make sure gravity's still working.


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