Senator Pete Domenici Set to Retire
Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) will not seek re-election in 2008, sources close to Domenici tell First Read and NBC News. Domenici will make the announcement tomorrow at 4 p.m. Mountain Time in New Mexico.A total of 34 Senate seats will be up for grabs next year with Republicans having to defend 22 of them. At least three of the retiring Senators - Warner, Craig, and Domenici - were seen as having little trouble getting re-elected. But Craig's embarrassing problem with his conviction out of the restroom incident in Minneapolis and the other two retirements makes GOP prospects for recapturing the Senate next year a big uphill climb.
Domenici's decision not to seek re-election, opens up yet another opportunity for Democrats -- this in a key Western "purple" state. Not counting Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), Domenici would make the fourth retiring Republican senator this cycle. Wayne Allard (R-CO), Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and John Warner (R-VA) are the others. Each of these seats will be competitive for Democrats.
There is also the question of Ted Stevens ethics problems in Alaska where it is possible the Senator may even be forced to resign if an indictment is forthcoming for a scandal involving the remodeling of his home by contractors who ended up getting government business.
To top off Republican troubles, most Democrats appear relatively safe in their races and there are not a lot of sexy GOP candidates to oppose them. One exception is Louisiana where Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu is considered vulnerable but no prominent Republican has really stepped forward to challenge her.
That may change if Representative Bobby Jindal, a rising GOP star, loses in his bid for governor this year. Some analysts think Jindal would have a better shot at the Senate given his popularity and name recognition.
All in all, 2008 is looking more and more like a year that the GOP must limit its losses so that they have a chance to retake the Senate in 2010.