The Senate Guru: In the last week, speculation ran rampant over whether Ohio Republican George Voinovich would announce a re-election bid or a reti
January 12, 2009


The Senate Guru:

In the last week, speculation ran rampant over whether Ohio Republican George Voinovich would announce a re-election bid or a retirement. It was reported that he would be having a big conference call today, Sunday, with major donors to inform them of his 2010 plans. So what's the decision? Politico has the scoop:

Voinovich to announce retirement

Ohio Republican George Voinovich is expected to announce Monday that he won't seek reelection to the Senate in 2010. ...[..]

We'll know for sure tomorrow, but it looks likely that we can add Voinovich to a list of Senate Republican retirees that already features Florida's Mel Martinez, Kansas' Sam Brownback, and Missouri's Kit Bond. Further, Texas' Kay Bailey Hutchison may resign before 2010 to focus on her gubernatorial campaign. And we're less than two weeks into 2009. (Iowa's Chuck Grassley, Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter, Kentucky's Jim Bunning, and Oklahoma's Tom Coburn are still all potential retirees.) New NRSC Chair John Cornyn must be losing it.

Former Congressmen Rob Portman and John Kasich are the two Republicans most frequently mentioned as stand-ins should Voinovich retire, but both are flawed. Portman served in George W. Bush's administration as both U.S. Trade Representative and Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Think it'll be hard to tie Portman to Bush's economic record? And how do Ohioans feel about the trade agreements that Bush supported? As for Kasich, his political career peaked a decade ago as House Budget Chairman considering a Presidential run. Since leaving the House in 2001, Kasich spent time as managing director of Lehman Brothers' Columbus division, wingnutted it up on Fox News, and demurred from an '06 gubernatorial run.

On the Democratic side, the top choice appears to be Congressman Tim Ryan, though Ryan would be sacrificing his seat on House Appropriations if he ran. Other Ohio Democrats on the fairly strong bench are Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, and Congresspeople Betty Sutton and Zack Space.

I'm not convinced that the Republican Party should count their Ohio chickens just yet, although much depends on the success of how the Democratic majority negotiates through this tough economic situation. It should be said that Voinovich did show occasional glimpses of party independence, though sadly, not enough when it counted.

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