Is Voinovich Next?

Republican Senator Kit Bond of Missouri has joined Mel Martinez of Florida and Sam Brownback of Kansas in announcing that he will not seek re-election in 2010. Now there's talk that George Voinovich of Ohio could follow suit.

After the 2006 elections, I correctly predicted that we'd see a bunch of Republican House members retire, rather than stick around as part of the minority. Looks like we may be seeing some of that effect in the upper chamber, now that the GOP is clearly facing years out of power.

Voinovich is one of the few remaining moderate Republicans in the Senate, for which he is routinely blasted by conservatives -- who have been murmuring about an intraparty challenge from the right. Martinez and Bond are also relatively moderate, in comparison to the Jon Kyl types increasingly dominating the ever-shrinking Republican caucus.

As I have written, the "movement conservative" hard-liners now dominate GOP primaries, and they seem entirely disinterested in nominating electable candidates. These open seats will be a test of this. Democrats have a good chance in Missouri, Florida, and Ohio; Kansas, too, if Kathleen Sebelius (term-limited as governor in 2010) runs. If the GOP voters choose ultraconservatives -- as they did, for instance, in New Mexico in '08 -- Democrats just might shoot past that filibuster-proof 60-vote barrier -- and that's without even considering several vulnerable Republicans up for re-election, including Jim Bunning of Kentucky, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, David Vitter of Louisiana, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Richard Burr of North Carolina, and Charles Grassley of Iowa.

On a side note: with Norm Coleman now booted (barring an unlikely reversal), Specter is the only Jewish Republican in the US Senate. If he loses in 2010, it would be the first time with no Jewish Republican Senator in more than 50 years, by my accounting. (Eric Cantor of Virginia is the only one left in the House.)

On a completely different 2010 note, Deval Patrick's campaign committee reports paying $34,000 in late December to pollster Kiley & Co. Anyone received any calls recently asking your opinion of Tim Cahill or Charlie Baker?


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