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Some Lobbyists Ask NRSC to Push Ensign Out

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Still, one Republican source said that at an Ensign D.C. fundraiser last week at Cava Restaurant, turnout was low.

Asked about the number of attendees at the event and about Ensign's support among downtown lobbyists generally, spokeswoman Jennifer Cooper said her boss is "having good success in lining up fundraisers." She added that Ensign "expects to have a very productive first six months."

Even if the Wednesday fundraiser at Cava featured a small crowd, the embattled Senator will take another crack at K Street's generosity on March 2. According to an e-mail invitation, the political action committees for AT&T, Verizon and CTIA are holding a dinner at Carmine's restaurant.

Some lobbyists liken the Ensign predicament to that of Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Though she did not have an ethics scandal as a backdrop, the Alaska Republican lost in her party's primary last summer. When she launched what seemed to be a long-shot write-in campaign and sought K Street cash for the effort, many lobbyists turned their back on her, even though she was the top member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Other K Streeters, however, hosted events or wrote her checks.

"She definitely knows who her friends are," one lobbyist said.

Ensign sits on the Finance, Budget and Commerce panels. The latter is of great import for the telecom industry, which is backing the March 2 event.

Even so, another lobbyist whom Ensign solicited said the Senator's committee slots or status as a sitting Member of Congress don't matter since his reputation has been tarnished. "Is it helpful if he's the sponsor of your bill right now? No."

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