Nevada senator John Ensign will announce Monday that he is retiring from his position instead of facing what will likely be a tough reelection campaign in 2012, Roll Call reports.
"I do not want to put my family, those that I care about, or this state through what would be a very ugly campaign that would ultimately cause a great deal more pain than has already been felt as a result of my actions," Ensign said, according to prepared remarks.
Ensign would have likely faced Rep. Dean Heller in the primary. He is currently the subject of a Senate Ethics Committee investigation related to an affair he had with Cynthia Hampton, a former campaign staffer and the wife of his best friend and co- of staff.
Possible GOP contenders for Ensign's seat include antigay Sharron Angle, who unsuccessfully challenged Senate majority leader Harry Reid last year. The Hill recently reported that Angle addressed the possibility of challenging Ensign in the primaries: "I've got many options and I'm not ruling anything out."
Ensign was one of eight Republicans who voted in December to repeal the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. However, he scored only 10% on the Human Rights Campaign's congressional scorecard in the 111th Congress, and he has not been supportive of other gay rights legislation, including the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. He has also supported a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
It was revealed that Ensign is also tied to the Family, an antigay, conservative group that reportedly used its influence to support a proposed law in Uganda to make homosexual acts punishable by death. Other high-powered politicos involved in the Family include Iowa senator Chuck Grassley, Wyoming senator Mike Enzi, Kansas senator Sam Brownback, and Oklahoma senators Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn.