Friday, December 05, 2008

Republicans Jumping Ship From Senate

With Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post reporting last night that Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) is forming an exploratory committee to consider a run for the Texas Governor's office in 2010, Republican Senators as a group are starting to look like rats from a sinking ship before the next Congress even convenes.

According to Cillizza, Hutchison will drop $1 million into her gubernatorial committee in what looks like a sure challenge to Republican Governor Rick Perry.

"There's too much bitterness, too much anger, too little trust, too little consensus and too much infighting," said Hutchison. "And the tone comes from the top. Texans are looking for leadership and results."

You can read more from Chris at The Fix.

If this pans out, Hutchison will join Republican Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, who announced this week that he will not seek reelection to his Senate seat in 2010 -- a wise move given that Martinez has very low approval ratings, has largely been seen as a huge enabler for the Bush-Cheney regime in his one term in office and probably sees that there's no shortage of challengers in Florida willing to take him on.

It also seems certain at this point that Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) will leave the Senate in 2010 to run for Governor of Kansas. He would be trying to replace popular Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius who will be leaving due to term limits and who could, by the way, make this an excellent chance for another Democratic pickup in the next Senate election season.

Ohio Republican George Voinovich will be 74 in 2010, will certainly face a serious challenge from someone -- Paul Hackett? -- when his term is up and may not have the stomach to keep going after watching his GOP Senate colleagues get their asses handed to them in the last two election cycles.

Republican Chuck Grassley is a fixture in Iowa but will be 77 in 2010 and, of course, we're all hearing the rumors of MSNBC's Chris Matthews possibly posing a big threat to Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), who has been fighting cancer since 2005 and is now 78 years old. And Roll Call is reporting that Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy may also be up to challenging Specter for his seat.

So some Republicans are making it clear from two years out that they're gone from the Senate and others are major question marks to even try to retain their seats… Democrats need to start recruiting their 2010 candidates now and, hopefully, work hard toward three successful Congressional elections in a row and an even bigger majority that will take the Republicans a long, long time to reclaim.

While Democrats were able to grab Senate seats from Republican incumbents this year -- goodbye, John Sununu and Elizabeth Dole -- there may be some cyclical backlash against an all-Democratic Washington in 2010 and campaigning for a bunch of open seats will make the road to a bigger majority much easier to travel.