UPDATE: State Sen. Mike Ellis announced his retirement Friday morning.

Now that Republican State Senate President Mike Ellis has endured two consecutive days of embarrassing video dumps the questions begin:

Will Ellis recognize that the wound is fatal and decide to step aside? 
 
And did someone with an agenda in Wisconsin politics put Project Veritas on Ellis’s scent?
 
Let’s start with the second one first.

 James O’Keefe and Veritas became famous by outing liberal organizations, most notably ACORN and Planned Parenthood. The video points out that they are willing to expose anyone of any ideology, but it seems unlikely that Ellis appeared on their radar screen without an assist from someone in-state. 

Someone asked me Thursday if I had any theories as to who may have pointed Veritas Ellis’ way. The reality is there is no want for suspects among the conservative community. Ellis has often frustrated the right on a number of key issues, education among them. I heard several names yesterday that were plausible. Of course that anyone from the Wisconsin right was involved is conjecture.

Question number two: will this episode convince Ellis to retire? Several observers I spoke with yesterday are convinced that this has moved Ellis’ race from right leaning to toss up. I agree. He was already going to have to work harder than he ever has if he was going to defeat 

Democratic Representative Penny Bernard Schaber. It’s a safe bet a lot more Democratic money will be poured into this race than could have been expected before the Veritas expose’ if Ellis runs. And that money will likely buy television ads featuring portions of the videos.

Several names have been mentioned as potential candidates,but it’s unclear if any would seriously consider it. I spoke with one of those people Thursday and was told that person has no interest in challenging Ellis,but it would be a different matter if it was an open seat.

And that leads to this question: will Ellis run? A source familiar with the Ellis situation told me that there were numerous discussions Thursday, both with and without Ellis involved, as to whether Ellis should accept that this is too much to overcome and let someone else take on Schaber. But as I mentioned above, who that might be is a complete unknown at this point.

Ellis told the media Wednesday he knows how bad the video looks. Several people who have spoken with him tell me he knows how bad it really is. The Ellis seat is one of three that are seen as mission critical if the Republicans are going to hold the State Senate. 

One of the most often heard criticisms of Ellis is he tends put himself above the body in which he serves. The coming days will decide what Ellis does next.