Wadhams’ candidate in Nevada embraces disgraced Sen. Ensign

Colorado GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams has been dabbling in the early-stages of the Nevada race to unseat vulnerable U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Wadhams’ candidate of choice, Nevada GOP Chair Sue Lowden, is already leading Reid in polls and announced yesterday she welcomed the support of sex-scandal-rocked Nevada Senator John Ensign.

Family-values champion Ensign is still wrestling with revelations that he was tangled in a sex and influence-pedaling scandal with two former staffers. As head of the state GOP, Lowden drew criticism as the scandal broke for rejecting calls for Ensign’s resignation. She reportedly told a local newspaper this week she “hopes to see Ensign campaigning for Republicans in Nevada.”

Talking Points Memo:

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans to ask the other candidates if they agree with her, and to note national Republicans have distanced themselves from Ensign since he admitted having an affair with a staffer.

“Sue Lowden’s support of John Ensign may have fundraising value to her, but it is a reflection of her own character and fitness for office. She has shown more fidelity to him, than he has shown to his own wife,” DSCC spokesman Eric Schultz will say in a press release today.

Lowden, a former state party chairwoman and state senator, announced her candidacy last week and will be one of 9 Republicans hoping to pull a “Daschle” on Reid next fall.

On the stump, Lowden paints Reid as a government-can-solve-anything Democrat and says he’s “in lock step” with President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to the Elko Daily.

Wadhams made his name early as captain of the campaign that defeated Minority Leader Tom Daschle in 2004 in South Dakota.

But Wadhams has been considerably less successful since then. He has had a rocky ride in Colorado, where he has been the party’s engineer of defeat since he climbed aboard two years ago. He was also the strategist steering Virginia Sen. George F. Allen’s failed 2006 run against Democrat challenger Jim Webb. Analysts agree Allen lost the contest as a result of the “macaca moment,” when the senator slurred a member of Webb’s team at a public function and the incident was posted on YouTube, going viral almost immediately, the tape replayed on network news. Allen’s response failed to satisfy both supporters and detractors.

Wadham’s handling of the campaign was later set out as an example of how not to succeed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

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