Sunday, August 5, 2007

NE-Sen, VA-Sen: Mass Retirement?

Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) was one of the first Republicans to hint at running for President in 2008. He brought up the possibility at the Republican National Convention in 2004, before Bush even won reelection.

Now, Hagel may not even be in the Senate at the start of the next President's turn.

Hagel, who was one of the first Republicans to break with Bush on Iraq, may retire altogether instead of running for reelection next year, where he faces a tough primary challenge agains the pro-war Joe Bruning, Nebraska's Attorney General.

Robert Novak says this;

"Hagel must decide what to do in 2008: to run for president, to run for Senate re-election or to get out of politics. The betting in the Senate Republican cloakroom is that he will retire, but Hagel has given no signal of his intentions and tells friends that he has yet to make a decision."

Democrats don't have a candidate yet, but likely will if Hagel decides to retire. Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey, former Senator Bob Kerrey, and 2006 3rd District House candidate Scott Kleeb, who got 45% in a district that went over 70% for Bush, are all possible Democratic nominees. Either way, a Hagel retirement would add Nebraska to the list of potentially vulnerable seats for the GOP.

Also likely to be on that list is Virginia, where 80 year-old John Warner looks to be preparing to retire. In a state where Democrats have taken two straight top statewide races in two years, an open seat would be gold in another Democratic year, especially if they get the other Warner to run, former Governor Mike Warner, who gave the Republican Warner his only difficult run for reelection in 1996.

Again, Robert Novak;
"The state's GOP leaders not long ago were sure that 80-year-old Republican Sen. John Warner would seek a sixth term in 2008, but now they think he probably will not. That would open the door for Democratic former Gov. Mark Warner (no relation) to enter the race. Any Republican would be an underdog against the Democratic Warner."

Republicans are likely to nominate the moderate Congressman Tom Davis of Fairfax County, who represents a district the Democrats would certainly have to win to win the seat. Webb got 53% in Davis' district last year. Davis, however, may be too moderate for the conservative Virginia GOP and conservatives may force an inconvienent primary challenge against Davis. His House seat, however, is likely to go to the Democrats.

Remember that Republicans are already having a hard time holding on to their open seat in Colorado.

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