The Other McCain

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Wisconsin Senate Seat Open for 2012 as Democrat Kohl Announces Retirement

Posted on | May 13, 2011 | 6 Comments

This is very bad news for Democrats:

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl said he would not seek re-election next fall, believing it’s better to “leave a job a little too early than a little too late.”
Kohl, 76, said it is time to give someone else the opportunity to serve in the seat he has held since winning election in 1988. . . .
Dems had been confident Kohl would seek another term, particularly after he transferred $1 million of his own money into his campaign account at the end of 2010. But he said he came to the conclusion as he thought about it over the past few weeks.

(Hat-tip: Ann Althouse at Instapundit.) The odds against Harry Reid maintaining a Democrat majority in the Senate were already pretty long. “Democrats are defending 21 Senate seats next year, compared to 10 for Republicans,” explains Michael O’Brien at The Hill. A lot of first-term Democrats, elected in the GOP’s annus horriblis of 2006, are up for re-election in Republican-leaning “red” states.

Wisconsin is merely a purple state, despite major GOP gains in last year’s mid-terms, so Kohl had a good shot at re-election in 2012, keeping the seat under Democrat control. Now? Not so much:

Another Democrat has decided to retire from the Senate rather than face re-election, and this one will hurt. . . . Not only does [Kohl’s retirement] force Democrats to field a new candidate in Wisconsin, a state that turned Republican in 2010, it means that they lose someone with the potential to be a self-funder as well . . .

The fight earlier this year over Scott Walker’s government union bill “drained union coffers at a particularly tough moment in Wisconsin politics,” Ed Morrissey adds. The National Republican Senatorial Committee is chuckling over the latest woes of the Democrats’ 2012 effort, led by Sen. Patty Murray, who had only recently said there would be no more 2012 retirements.

Wisconsin’s Steve Eggleston has a run-down on the potential candidates to replace Kohl.

UPDATE: The seat just shifted from “Safe Democrat” to “Lean Democrat.” Also, gay activists are pushing lesbian Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin to run for Kohl’s seat, which would increase the likelihood of a bitterly contested Democrat primary. More at Memeorandum.


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