Byline: Sean Lengell, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Sen. George V. Voinovich of Ohio has joined a growing list of Republican senators who say they won't seek re-election in 2010, making the GOP's efforts to recapture control of the Senate more challenging than previously anticipated.
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn acknowledged that the party faces a competitive environment in the 2010 elections for incumbents and new candidates. But, he said, the party already has identified several experienced and well-known candidates capable of raising campaign money to succeed Mr. Voinovich, who announced his decision Monday.
At the end of the day, I am confident that our nominee will represent the values and priorities of the voters in the Buckeye State, said the senator from Texas.
Rob Portman, a former Republican House representative and director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget, has been speculated as a candidate for Mr. Voinovich's seat.
Since the November elections, four Republican senators - Mr. Voinovich and Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Mel Martinez of Florida and Christopher S. Bond of Missouri - have announced that they will step down when their terms expire. Democrats currently hold 57-41 advantage in the Senate, with two vacancies.
It's normal when you have one party go from the majority to the minority and [then] even further into the minority to have incumbents chose not to run again, said a senior Senate Republican aide. It's certainly disappointing, but I don't think it was anything that was not expected.
The four Republican retirements also will allow for a fresh wave of candidates to run for the Senate, a prospect officials say will energize the party's bid to win back seats it lost in 2006 and 2008.
It's not an ideal scenario, but that being said, it is certainly helpful that these [retirements] are coming so early in the [election] cycle, said another senior Senate Republican aide. It helps the Republicans' ability to have clarity in terms of what the [political] landscape's going to look like. …