Ensign, ranking telecom senator, to retire

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), the top Senate Republican on telecom policy, will retire after this session of Congress, The Hill reports

Ensign, ranking member of the Communications subcommittee, is followed in seniority on the full committee by GOP Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), John Thune (S.D.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.). 

On Commerce, DeMint is the ranking member on on aviation issues, Thune is ranking on surface transportation, and Wicker is ranking on consumer protection.

The group of Senate Republicans who oversee telecom issues will look quite different in the next Congress. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), ranking member of the full committee, will not seek reelection either. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) is next in line in seniority behind Hutchison. 

Factors beyond seniority — including prior voting, relationship with leadership, esteem with colleagues and fundraising record — help determine the positions.

Corrected at 4:17 p.m. to include Thune's Commerce ranking membership.