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A Carter in the Senate?

Former president Jimmy Carter's oldest son -- Jack -- is planning to challenge Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) next November, according to a report in today's Las Vegas Review Journal.

Jack Carter, 58, has lived in Las Vegas since 2003. He told the paper that the government's response to Hurricane Katrina was the motivating force behind his decision to run for the Senate.  Carter, a Democrat like his father, is the head of Carter Global -- an investment firm based in Las Vegas.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's chief of staff -- Susan McCue -- will meet with Carter in las Vegas next week to discuss the race.

Although he has been approached to run for office before, Jack Carter has not been an active donor to the party. A quick check of Political Moneyline's donor database turns up plenty of donations since 2002 from Jack Carters, but none from anyone with a Las Vegas address.

Father and son have chatted about a potential run; "he thinks I'd be good at it," said Carter the younger.   

Ensign has not been particularly high on the 2006 target list of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, due at least in part to his close friendship with Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Reid and Ensign ran against one another in 1998 with Ensign, then a House member, coming within 428 votes of ousting the Democrat.  Since that race, which was a decidedly nasty affair, the two made nice as Ensign quickly became a Senate colleague when he won an open seat race in 2000.

Although there is no stated "non-compete" clause between the two men, Reid and Ensign rarely  criticize one another and don't appear to spend much time trying to defeat each other when they stand for reelection.

In 2004, Ensign endorsed Reid-challenger Richard Ziser but did little to help the quixotic campaign.  Reid won with 61 percent just six years removed from his near-death experience against Ensign.

Reid and Jack Carter apparently have a friendly relationship. Roll Call's Mary Ann Akers noted earlier this month that when Reid suffered a mini-stroke over the August congressional recess, Jack and his wife sent a get-well card reading: "Harry, go just hard enough to keep the pressure on 'em. But not so hard you die! We need you up there." (Here's a link to the Akers article, but only subscribers have access.)

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 5, 2005; 11:37 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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