More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

The number of Republican retirements in the Senate is up to five (assuming Larry Craig makes good on his decision not to run for reelection, where he didn't in his decision to resign from office). This number, combined with other key factors, makes it near impossible for the GOP to regain the majority in the chamber. But could more retirements be in the offing, thus increasing the Republicans' woes even more? One leading GOP politician, former Congressman and current Idaho Governor Butch Otter seems to think so.

We've now got five Republicans [retiring or resigning], and I guess there's a few more that may make a statement, from what [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell's told me. So there's more changes to be made there.

There is still quite a bit of time before the window of time in which members of Congress announce their retirements closes. Back in the 1994 cycle, for instance, the major wave of Democratic retirements, which foreshadowed the major losses the party suffered in that November's midterms, didn't occur until relatively late in the cycle -- January and February 1994. Even later that cycle, in April 1994, another four Southern Democrats announced their retirements, further decreasing the Democrats' chances. Similarly, during the 2004 cycle, Republican Senator Ben "Nighthorse" Campbell of Colorado didn't announce his intention to retire until March 2004. So it would be by no means unheard of were McConnell's assessment (via Otter) to be proved true.

Who within the Republican ranks still may announce their retirement? Ted Stevens of Alaska, who is already under federal investigation and whose approval rating has taken a real beating in recent months, is an obvious possibility. But what others? Folks like Tennessee's Lamar Alexander and North Carolina's Liddy Dole have been mentioned, the former due to speculation that he would move on to serve as president of Vanderbilt and the latter due to her unpopularity in the wake of her lack of success atop the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

But one other name I continue to look at is that of Mississippi's Thad Cochran. Now I know that Cochran's staffers have put out the word that he intends to seek another term, with a possible official announcement coming as soon as next month. I'll wait til I hear it from his lips, however. Already there's reason to believe Cochran's on his way out -- Arlen Specter at least implying that Cochran would retire -- and that came before most of these other retirements from the Senate Republican ranks. And a Cochran retirement could open up the door for the highly popular former Democratic state Attorney General Michael Moore to make a bid for Senate.

This all could be mixed messages or idle speculation. But if it's not, the Republicans' problems this cycle are only going to be getting worse.

Update [2007-10-8 14:57:1 by Jonathan Singer]: From David Kowalski in the comments...

Wikipedia has records of Senate retirements for each election from 1920 through 1906 (popular election of Senators did not exist until 1907 and by 1913 everybody had it due to a constitutional amendment).

Most Democratic retirees in one cycle: 6 (1996) Most Republican retirees in one cycle: 5 (1930, 1936,1948,1958,1996) Most total retirements in one cycle: 11 (1996) Most net retirements: 5 (1958).

Democrats won three seats of the five net GOP retirements in 1958 en route to a 16 seat cycle gain (Wikipedia includes a "gain" of 3 seats for Democrats from Alaska and Hawaii in this cycle; without it's still 13 seats).

Tags: Retirements, Senate 2008, Senate Republicans (all tags)

Comments

45 Comments

Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Now, if only Reid, Pelosi, Wynn, Hoyer and Emanuel would retire we progressives might have a fighting chance (all safe Dem districts, btw).

And Lieberman still ain't a Democrat.

P.S I'm not sure about Reid's district.

by Stoic 2007-10-08 07:51AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Harry Reid?  He's a US Senator.  He represents the state of Nevada.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-10-08 08:01AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Right, my bad. The US Senate is a whole other problem. But it would help if we had a Dem Senate Leader who fought for the Progressives instead of trying to compromise with the Republicans. I swear, the Senate Dems will vote for a bad bill if it make them look like they are actually doing something instead of looking like they are actually leaders with spines.

by Stoic 2007-10-08 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Democrats want to be the "Anti-do-nothing-congress" so bad that they are doing bad things to continue to think they are doing good job.  Like having us vote on moveon was a horrible idea and a waste of time.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-10-08 09:48AM | 0 recs
Hoyer and Rahm... yes.

Pelosi and Reid, no.
Reid was better as an opposition leader, but is working with a very, very thin majority.

He should be doing more, but he's not fundamentally at odds with the rest of America.

Pelosi could be doing better, but has done a pretty ok job too despite a few gigantic blunders.

Hoyer, aka Democratic Majority leader and leader of the "Moderate" caucus, has kneecapped us at every turn and should be retired, or promoted out of leadership in a Democratic administration.

Rahm is a problem as well, because he's great in a fight against Republicans, but is hostile to progessive causes, and smart as a whip.

I'd say of all of them Rahm is the biggest problem to progressive policy and that Hoyer is the biggest obstacle to progressive legislation.

Reid retiring would probably mean another Republican senate seat.

-C.

by neutron 2007-10-08 01:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Hoyer and Rahm... yes.

And realistically with Tim Johnson out and lieberman being lieberman Reid was an actual minority leader on a lot of subjects. He's not perfect but he tried his best with a bad hand. I think anybody could've done better with this senate.

by Ernst 2007-10-09 03:15AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

On the Democratic Side.
Levin(MI),Lautenberg(NJ),and Rockefeller(WV)are in their 70s. Levin(MI)and Rockefeller(WV) are committee chairmanships in powerful committee- It is unlikely they retire. Lautenberg is less likely to retire.

On the Republican side
Stevens(AK),Roberts(KS),Cochran(MS),Dole (NC),Inhofe(OK),are in their 70's

Stevens is more likely to retire.

by nkpolitics 2007-10-08 07:53AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Fundraising cues from the first and second quarter would say Cochran, Stevens, Alexander, and Dole are on retirement watch.  The Third Quarter reports will be very telling.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-10-08 08:04AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Dole? She raised more money than almost anyone else in the 1st quarter.

by Unabridged 2007-10-08 08:24AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Yes.  She outfundraised every incumbent senator except Durbin. (And Kerry?  The page I'm using says he raised over 6 million but I'm guessing that was a transfer from his old presidential account or something.  So I'm not counting him).  

Second Quarter: 823K
She went from 2nd place overall to 18th place overall.  Her significant drop in dollars and placing implies her fundraising will
A. Lack endurance or
B. Continue to slow down because she doesn't think she needs anymore money for whatever reason.  

Either way, the dropoff is pretty big too.  She had by far the largest fundraising dropoff at raising 950,000$ less, when most senators picked up their fundraising.  She was one senator among two Democratic senators who had a drop in fundraising, (Excluding Biden since he is fundraising for the presidential election) and one of six Republican senators (Including Dole - Excluding Allard since he is retiring).  

Only eight senators had dropoffs in the second quarter.  Two of which, are Cochran and Stevens.  Both people we are looking at as significant and possible retirees.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-10-08 08:51AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

When you raise so much 1st quarter, there's no where else to go but down. $800K is still a lot of money.

Also, back in the 1st quarter, there were rumblings of a top-tier challenger against Dole. Now that half of the Democrats in the state have passed on a challenge (and no one has even entered yet), I can see her taking a bit easy for now. Post a strong first quarter, ward off retirement rumors, ward off strong challengers, and go into cruise control until the race develops.

Try as you might, but its hard to spin $800K in an off-year as "weak".

by Unabridged 2007-10-08 09:19AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Considering her lackluster poll numbers, I don't see Democrats requiring a top-tier challenger to knock her off.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-10-08 09:34AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?


Well, Grier Martin will do, of course, and will keep NC in at least the second tier up to the election.

The thing is, with eight top tier pickup opportunities (VA, NH, CO, NM, ME, MN, OR, NE) and a crowded second tier after that, there's a real danger that a winnable NC seat will just fall through the cracks just by not competing for the attention. North Carolina is an uphill climb and will need some breaks to stay on peoples' radar.  Just having an unpopular GOP incumbent won't be enough--remember how Jester Helms got to be Senator For Life even though nobody there would admit to voting for him...

by admiralnaismith 2007-10-08 09:44AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

NE is going to have to drop off that list soon, and NM isn't looking all that well for you either right now.

by Unabridged 2007-10-08 09:46AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Mayor Marty is planning to enter the US Senate Race tommorow- Big Bill give him the green light.

by nkpolitics 2007-10-08 09:53AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

As I said, NM will be dropping of that list.

by Unabridged 2007-10-08 09:56AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Well, lets analyze this race, shall we?  

Outspending her opponent by 1.3 million while her opponent ran a horrible campaign, Heather Wilson survived the 2006 elections by less than 1000 votes.  Not a very strong showing at all for being elected for her sixth term.  

Splitting her weak base of support with Mayor Chavez, I would assume he wins the majority of support from that district, especially considering her still recent barage of bad news from the AG scandal.  

If he can spend money against her, dollar for dollar, he should be able to gain more support from Udall's district than she can from Pearce's district.  (Which is essentially how Bush won in 2004, I'm assuming he outspent Kerry in New Mexico - He won Pearce's district by more than Kerry won Udall's district) We also don't know if either of these candidates will face significant primary challenges.  (Seeing as you wave off Wiviott in the generall, I would assume you agree with me when I don't see him as a significant primary opponenet.)  

With the fundraising edge on the Democrats side, and more than likely support from Richardson, Denish, and Bingamin, the three most significant statewide office holders, (with the exclusion of Domenici, because I don't see him having a significant working hand in 2008 New Mexico elections - I mean campaigning, fundraising, etc.).  

I would give this a "Toss up" label, or a "VERY slight Republican Lean"  Because we don't know a lot of things, and I'm sure you would agree with me on that.  There are still countless of possibilities of what could happen this senate race.  I would wait a bit longer and see how things play out before saying Wilson has a significant advantage in this race.  

---------------------------
As for NE, I would wait till we know what Bob Kerrey does before I would count it out.  You said it yourself that he is rather unpredictable.  I would also give that race time to play out before giving it a significant Republican lean.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-10-08 10:35AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Regarding to NM US Senate Race- It depends on who the Democratic Nominee.

Richardson vs Wilson. Likely Democratic Takeover.
Udall vs Wilson. Lean Democratic Takeover.
Chavez vs Wilson. Tossup/Slight Democratic Takeover.
Denish vs Wilson. Tossup.
Madrid vs Wilson. Tossup/Slight Republican retention.

I'd prefer Chavez or Denish or Madrid because. While Denish is popular with the Democratic party establishment. She has not had or won a tough election. She won the 2002 and 2006 Lt Governors race with Big Bill Richardson. Denish has not been battletested. Denish will be Governor of New Mexico after Jan 2009 assuming Big Bill becomes VP or Secretary of State. Denish will have the incumbency advantage in 2010 NM Governors Race.

Chavez is a popular Mayor of Alberquerque. He'd beat WIlson in Central NM-1. Win Northern NM-3 by a greater margin than Wilson's margin of victory in Southern NM-2.
Chavez ran a competive Statewide campaign for Governor in 1998 against Republican Incumbent Gary Johnson during a neutral environment when Republican Governors were popular.

by nkpolitics 2007-10-08 11:00AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

For any Republican to win in 2006 in a Dem-leaning district, especially against a statewide office holder, I would consider that a "strong showing". The fact that Wilson outspent her also reflects the fact that Wilson outraised her, which is a testament to how great of a campaigner she is.

In a Kerrey vs Johanns race, I still favor Johanns. Without Kerrey, its Likely GOP or better.

by Unabridged 2007-10-08 11:55AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Favor Johanns, maybe.  Depends on how he fundraises and how Kerrey fundraises.  Again, I'd watch it play out before naming a winner.  But you're already saying take it off the second tier radar for Democrats.  

As for the fundraising, the point in case, with NM-03 having a hand in the statewide race, I'm expecting Wilson's fundraising advantage that barely squeeked her by, to be pulled down to a minimal edge, forcing her out, not to mention she has no strong base of support against Marty.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-10-08 12:21PM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

I'll also note that Wilson wouldn't have survived through '08.  Democrats were putting a better candidate forward and the NRCC couldn't spend enough money to keep her in office.  The DCCC had her in their sights and it is clear she is surrendering it to them.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-10-08 12:28PM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Sure, she could've. The political environment can still change, and with a Presidential ticket at the top of the ballot, who knows how that would've swung what would've been a close election.

by Unabridged 2007-10-08 01:11PM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

New Mexico is going to be a Blue State at the Presidential Level.

The 2008 Presidential Election is similar to the 1996 Presidenital Election- Democratic Nominee- Hillary Clinton is favored to win by the comfortable margin over the Republican Nominee.

In New Mexico- 2008- This is not going to be a 50-50 election but a competive Race favoring Democrats.

In a State that is trending Democratic due to a strong Hispanic Population. Voter turnout among Democrats is going to be high.

The main reason why Richardson and Bingaman won re-election by landslide margins is because they faced sacrificial lamb opponents.

by nkpolitics 2007-10-08 01:25PM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Lets not forget. DSCC has more money than the NRSC and NRSC has more seats to defend. The NRSC will spend more money in Minnesota- helping Coleman defeat Franken .

Chavez has name recogntion and is able to raise a lot of money. and will have access to DSCC money which is greater than NRSC money. Chavez can campaign as a NON-PARTISAN Mayor of a big city vs a Partisan Republican.

by nkpolitics 2007-10-08 01:17PM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Mayor Chavez- assuming he wins the Democratic Primary- will defeat Heather Wilson in the General Election.

This race will be similar to 2006 Colorado Governors Race between a Conservative Democrat and a Partisan Republican.

Chavez will neutralize Wilson's strength among Independents,Conservative Democrats and Disaffected Republicans. He can cut into Wilson's regional base in Central NM.

Wilson will not get more than 60% of the vote in Southern NM-2 and Northern NM will be a 60-40 race favoring Chavez.

Chavez defeats Wilson in Central NM-1 (55-45).

Despite his faults- Chavez is a type of Democrat that will run a strong campaign for a race that is competive and expensive. Chavez is no pushover.

Due to the strong Democratic enviroment in 2008. A weak Democrat like Chavez could defeat a strong Republican like Wilson.

by nkpolitics 2007-10-08 10:41AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Yeah.  Whether North Carolina gets competitive depends on a lot of things.  (Martin's fundraising, DSCC's fundraising, political atmosphere, etc.)  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-10-08 09:46AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Since PPP has little to no value, I don't think she's all that vulnerable. Certainly, a strong challenge would make it a close race. Absent that...

by Unabridged 2007-10-08 09:45AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

I should also add that as of 10/05/2007 04:47 PM, you would happen to be wrong about nobody entering.  (Refer to breaking blue).  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-10-08 09:36AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Yes, Jim Neal. I'm sure Dole is going to retire rather than face his juggernaught campaign.

Though I suppose its only a matter of time until PPP releases a poll showing Neal within 5 points of Dole (after skewing the sample and giving the respondents a glowing bio of Neal of course).

by Unabridged 2007-10-08 09:48AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

I'm pointing out the fact that she has an announced opponent, contrary to your statement;

"(and no one has even entered yet), "

I never commented on how I think or feel Jim Neal will run a senate campaign, so I don't know where you get off acting like I'm touting Jim Neal as a savior for Democrats of North Carolina.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-10-08 10:15AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

I don't think we'll see any Democratic retirees, regardless of age, because they look to retain the majority.

by wmlawman09 2007-10-08 08:06AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

I wish Lautenberg would retire.  There's never going to be a more favorable cycle to get a new Dem elected in NJ with little opposition than now.  If Lautenberg steps down now, someone like Rob Andrews or Rush Holt who could be in place for several terms could get elected without incumbency in a Dem-favorable environment instead of in 6 years when Lautenberg will have to retire because he'll be 112 years old and who knows what the political environment will be like?  

by NJIndependent 2007-10-08 01:27PM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Even as you guys mull Otter's statements about Senate retirements. please ponder why this deluded individual is smiling and why this deluded reporter is writing this and why the deluded Washington Post is printing this garbage..

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con tent/article/2007/10/05/AR2007100501894. html

by Boilermaker 2007-10-08 11:02AM | 0 recs
How can the RCCC target Dem House seats when

they are in debt?

Sure, Hillary may have negative coattails in conservative districts, but if the GOP are cash-strapped they won't be able to capitalize on that.

by verasoie 2007-10-08 12:07PM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

I'm even worse than Jonathan. I had the same thoughts as both of you, but was too lazy to write them down even.

The only additional thought was that maybe The Penguin himself (that means McConnell) might have discussed his own retirement possibilities with Otter. I have no basis for saying so other than that it was Penguin who had the conversation in the first place, but you know, he's got Stumbo and maybe Chandler breathing down his neck, he made the mistake of backing Fletcher, his Junior Senator has gone senile, and the Republican hold on Kentucky is on its way out...might be a good time for an old pragmatist to declare victory and go home...

by admiralnaismith 2007-10-08 09:49AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

A guy named "Michael Moore" can win is MS?

I'll believe that when I see it? HA!

by MNPundit 2007-10-08 09:51AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

Seeing as he already has won statewide in Mississippi four times, I think we've already seen it.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-10-08 10:11AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

I know, I was being facetious. Obviously from his position he has won a statewide race.

by MNPundit 2007-10-08 08:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Records and more

Wikipedia has records of Senate retirements for each election from 1920 through 1906 (popular election of Senators did not exist until 1907 and by 1913 everybody had it due to a constitutional amendment).

Most Democratic retirees in one cycle: 6 (1996)
Most Republican retirees in one cycle: 5 (1930, 1936,1948,1958,1996)
Most total retirements in one cycle: 11 (1996)
Most net retirements: 5 (1958).

Democrats won three seats of the five net GOP retirements in 1958 en route to a 16 seat cycle gain (Wikipedia includes a "gain" of 3 seats for Democrats from Alaska and Hawaii in this cycle;  without it's still 13 seats).

by David Kowalski 2007-10-08 10:52AM | 0 recs
Let's REALLY go out on a limb...

Dick Lugar (R-IN)...

He was just reelected with no real opposition in 2006, but he also both has attacked Bush's policies in Iraq and has said the various ideas the Democrats are attempting to draw down and withdraw from the situation in Iraq won't work.

The Bushies can't touch him within his state, but it's also obvious from his recent comments that he won't work with Senate Dems, as otherwise he'd be a prime target to flip.

Lugar lives and breathes foreign relations, and yet it appears that his usually relatively reasonable worldview and opinions have absolutely no traction within the Bush administration.  As the war in Iraq continues to worsen, will he be willing to sit in a job where he has no real effect on its direction or outcome?

Opinions from Hoosiers on this?

by palamedes 2007-10-08 11:57AM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

"Great minds think alike"  

Great minds don't go deleting comments for no reason.  It's offensive to me, that you are deleting non-offensive comments.  I think it would only be ethical for an admin to read through the diaries of his or her website.  

What the hell Jonathon?  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-10-08 01:31PM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

I'll add my voice to the complaints... what's the deal here?

by frankies 2007-10-08 01:55PM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

ID Gov hints are more retirements in the Senate!
by LeftistAddiction,
Sun Oct 07, 2007 at 04:29:41 PM EST

Buried in Newsweek's very recent interview with Idaho Governor Otter is this statement:
We've now got five Republicans [retiring or resigning], and I guess there's a few more that may make a statement, from what [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell's told me.

Full analysis at Campaign Diaries.

Otter plainly hints here at the possibility of more Republican seats opening up! But which could those be?

--------------------------------------

This diary put me in mind of another possible retirement: Diaper Dave Vitter, perhaps holding on until, the Repubs hope, their candidate Bobby Jindal gets elected to the governor's chair and can appoint an interim successor.

I don't see the big deal of it, myself. The law requires the Guv to call a special electioin within 11 weeks of the seat becoming vacant. I don't see that as make or break for any would-be successor to Vitter.

----------------------------

The gracious thing would be to apologize for the oversight and congratulate LeftistAddiction on his newsy and thoughtful diary. But making Comments disappear gives me the creeps. We have enough 1984 stuff coming from the Bushies, please.

by Woody 2007-10-08 03:37PM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

I definitely think Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Ted Stevens (R-AK) will head for the old Republicans home and federal prison respectively. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Lamar! Alexander (R-TN) bolts considering he didn't want to run for US Senate in the first place in 2002 and he lost that race for Minority Whip last year. Maybe then we could get Gov. Phil Bredesen in the race to succeed him instead of Harold Ford Jr.

Probably an outside chance of Liddy Dole (R-NC) making a surprise announcement of retirement at the end of the year. She's in her 70's, a very irrelevant member after her horrendous tenure as RSCC chair, has no seniority in the chamber and does nothing for her state. Obviously, I would love for that to happen because even though she is vulnerable as an incumbent, the seat would be an easy pickup as an open race.

Prediction: We will pick up the confirmed open seats in VA, NM and CO. Sununu (NH), Coleman (MN) and Collins (MN) are defeated. Bob Kerrey passes on NE and Johanns wins in a walk. Close tossup races in NC, KY, ID (open) and OR.

by TarHeelStateDem 2007-10-08 04:12PM | 0 recs
Re: More GOP Retirements on the Way in the Senate?

My guess is that Cochran will stay. I think that Alexander, Dole and Stevens will retire. TN (if Harold Ford would run again) would be a great pick-up opportunity. On our side, I think that Lautenberg will likely go. He retired in 2000, only to be drafted in 2002 because there was noone else who could readily run when Torricelli bowed out mercifully.

by arkansasdemocrat 2007-10-08 06:32PM | 0 recs

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