Retirement Watch Update
About a month and a half ago, the Guru offered you his first Retirement Watch post, looking at any GOP Senators who might be considering retirement over a re-election bid for any number of reasons. Here is the Guru's first update of the Retirement Watch:
↑ New Mexico's Pete Domenici: Pajamas Pete was on the RW because of his advanced age (he is turning 75 this May) and questionable mental state. Over the last several weeks, his role in the U.S. Attorney firing scandal has come to light, as well as his subsequent hiring of lawyers as a result. Ethics complaints have been filed against him. It is unclear what ramifications await Domenici, but it does suggest that this previously strong possibility for re-election has undermined his own chances with one very inappropriate phone call. Should he retire (or otherwise not seek re-election), GOP Rep. Heather Wilson would have been the likely front-runner for the GOP nomination to replace him, but she apparently made an inappropriate phone call similar to Domenici's, leaving super-conservative Rep. Steve Pearce as the go-to Republican, a man who is likely too conservative to win statewide in New Mexico. So the NM-GOP's likely choices are a politically damaged Domenici or a too-conservative-for-statewide Steve Pearce. If a prominent Democrat steps up early to challenge Domenici, it may put enough pressure on him to opt for retirement.
↑ Idaho's Larry Craig: Since the last RW, voices both liberal and conservative have suggested that Larry Craig is not long for the Senate. Whether the ID-GOP is trying to urge him out or are prepping a primary challenger is unclear, but the rumors are growing.
↑ Virginia's John Warner: Before the last RW, J. Warner had publicly gone back-and-forth as to where he was leaning between retirement and a re-election bid. It has appeared that J. Warner would take another term if he didn't have a tough challenge for it. He has even planned a little bit of fundraising. However, former Governor Mark Warner may be more interested in a 2008 Senate bid than previously thought. Also, former Senator George "Macaca" Allen has held a meeting to gauge support for a 2008 Senate bid should J. Warner retire. One wouldn't think that Allen would hold such a meeting unless he had info that the likelihood of a J. Warner retirement was stronger than the 50-50 conventional wisdom.
↔ Nebraska's Chuck Hagel: Before the last RW post, questions existed as to whether Hagel would run for President, run for Senate re-election, run for both, or retire from politics. Then, Hagel held a big press conference and answered none of those questions. He did say that "he would actively raise money for a Senate re-election bid in 2008." It did come out that Hagel, before he served two terms in the Senate, made it crystal clear that he felt twelve years was enough and that he supported term limits. Does he still support such limits? (Probably not.) However, GOP state attorney general Jon Bruning has already begun putting together an exploratory committee for a Senate bid. Is he just getting a head start in case of a Hagel Senate retirement, or does he enjoy inside info?
↔ Mississippi's Thad Cochran: Cochran had been publicly undecided on a re-election bid, holding off on a decision until late 2007, as of the last RW. Since then, he has planned some moderately aggressive fundraising, but he has also moved even further back his declared deadline for announcing his 2008 intentions and stated that being in the minority party would make him "less inclined" to run.
↓ North Carolina's Elizabeth Dole: Her age, health issues, and failure as NRSC Chair had led many to consider her a strong possibility for retirement. Nevertheless, she says she is running for re-election and has begun aggressive fundraising. Also, while polling for her has been pretty weak for her overall, they are polling her as the expected Republican in the race, indicating that the media outlets expect her to run again as well.