Friday, December 09, 2005

Ensign Rumored to Be Reconsidering Her Candidacy


Those who read the comment sections of the blog might have noticed the following comment to the last entry:

Anonymous said...
There is an email going around indicating that Margee Ensign has cancelled her Blackhawk fundraiser and is reconsidering her candidacy. (?!)

12:57 PM, December 09, 2005

I’ve spoken with multiple sources about this and can confirm that Ensign has cancelled the Blackhawk fundraiser.  Other than that it looks like the rumors are pretty credible, at least insofar as it looks like Ensign is seriously “reconsidering her candidacy.”  Whether she’ll ultimately decide to continue running or not is still up in the air.  Or at least, I have no confirmation one way or the other about that.

Everyone I’ve spoken to about this, whether they know much about Ensign or not, has speculated that this might be due to the accelerated pace of her candidacy.  Babaloo, one of my wonderful co-authors, said it best:

You know, just idly speculating, coming so quickly on the heels of her announcement, it seems like the only reason for her to be reconsidering her candidacy at this point is if she is facing pressure from UOP.  Otherwise, there just is no reason not to go ahead and see how it plays out.  And perhaps, if she is in some sort of negotiation with the university over her status, she truly doesn't know if she will be continuing or not.  But it's my guess that she's absolutely not willing to give up her job for a run at this point.  Just a feeling.

For those who don’t quite get the connection, Ensign has said that announcing her candidacy would force her to step down as dean at the University of the Pacific (UOP).  From this Stockton Record article it’s pretty clear she was hoping to push that date until March, which is when she has to return her papers to get on the ballot.  It reads in part:

Ensign will keep her job as dean of UOP's School of International Studies until March, when she'll file her last set of papers to challenge Pombo. She will remain a professor and will take a leave of absence for the campaign  

I bet this assertion came from Ensign based on what she was expecting or hoping to happen.  It’s perfectly possible that the UOP administration thought differently and demanded that she step down as dean now, not in March.  Like Babaloo I’m inclined to think that if it came down to her job and this race for Congress, she’s choose her job.    

Again, this is just speculation.  Ensign has not returned any e-mails seeking a comment about this, and I imagine I won’t be the first person she tells.  So we might have to go to be tonight kiddies wondering what’s up.  Such is life I suppose.

The other interesting side to this is the question about how this will affect the race if it’s true.  My take is that Ensign’s withdrawal would help McNerney more than Filson.  I suppose it depends upon what prompted Ensign’s withdrawal (again, we’re speaking hypothetically here) and who Ensign would endorse, if anyone.  I’m not sure how likely this is, but if Ensign were to pull out and endorse McNerney, it would be a huge boost for his candidacy.  It would help consolidate McNerney’s claim to be the grassroots candidate.  Filson would also be aided by an Ensign endorsement, but since his campaign is less oriented towards the grassroots, the endorsement would be somewhat less useful for him (although it would deny McNerney the boost I mentioned earlier).

For her part, Ensign has been able to engage and energize a segment of the population not otherwise attracted to McNerney or Filson.  This means that even if she pulls out, again we’re talking about if at this point, she still could play a major role in the anti-Pombo efforts.  I hope that whatever happens, Ensign stays committed to fighting Pombo in one way or another.  We need her energy and passion in this race.  And we need the energy and passion of her supporters.  So here’s to hoping that she will stay committed to fighting Pombo, even if she ultimately decides not to run against him.            
  

2 Comments:

Blogger VPO said...

You leave out two other reasons, other than her job, and it actually might be a combination of reasons, if she is really bowing out:

1. Filson and the DCCC got to her and "asked" her not to run. I have heard that Filson was not too happy about her entering the race and tried to discourage her. I understand they talk by phone about this. Also, Filson/Dem supporters could have gotten to her through other channels, such as Mike Machado (who Ensign knows) or maybe some bigwig in DC called her up. To me, this is the most likely scenario, or at least the major reason.

2. The other possibility, and I am just putting out ideas here, not accusing, is that Pombo may have had some dirt on her or promised her a very nasty campaign. She had said Pombo's people were prowling around, looking to discredit her. Also, I have heard from many people that Pombo's modus operandi is to enforce his rule by calling your boss, friends, associates, etc., and making threats. Maybe there were threats of some sort, things like "you will never play in this town again". It could be threats to her job or the UOP funding. I am not going to speculate on more sinister stuff, though there does seem to be a fear in San Joaquin of speaking out against Pombo due to the damage he could do to your career or other prospects in the community there.

8:48 AM, December 10, 2005  
Blogger Matt said...

VPO,

I actually spoke to someone close to Ensign about #1 and he said that as far as he knew nothing like this had happened recently. Furthermore, I think Ensign must have known the score about Filson and his backers in D.C. way before her announcement at DVC. You might be over-estimating the pressure the Washington bigwigs can bring to bear on such a local race, especially since Ensign is not part of a party machine. I mean, they can't threaten to ruin her political career since she doesn't really appear to be interested in any race besides the one against Pombo.

Also, I've heard rumors (and that's what they are) that a lot of bigwigs in Washington are unhappy with Filson. It doesn't mean that they're going to back a Filson opponent in the primary, but let's face it, Filson's not as attractive a candidate as someone like Machado would be. Filson has no proven record as a politician or as a candidate, except for what he's done these last couple of months. Regardless of whether these rumors are true or not, it's not as if the whole Washington establishment is behind Filson. It's more true to say that he has some serious support in Washington from a handful of influential Democrats.

Regarding your second point, I don't think it's incompatible with the possibility I raised. I'm not sure that Pombo would bother himself with sabotaging just one of the Democratic candidates in the primary, especially since Ensign wasn't the front runner. But if Pombo has some friends on the board of trustees of UOP or something like that (and I wouldn't doubt he knows the type of people who'd sit on the board), this type of pressure could be brought to bear fairly easily.

That said, Ensign herself acknowledged at DVC that once she announced her candidacy, she'd have to step down as dean. In fact, I recall reading Nick Juliano's Tracy Press article about her speech and realizing that he took this to be the primary reason she only announced the formation of an exploratory committee. It's perfectly possible that once she announced her candidacy, something quintessentially non-political was set into motion. But at this point, who knows?

10:02 AM, December 10, 2005  

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