Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) set up a news conference for Monday in Omaha. The rumor has been that he is going to announce he will not seek re-election in 2008. The AP is now running a story that has a "Republican official" confirming the retirement announcement. Hagel has been the most vocal Republican critic of the Iraq War. If he does retire, frustration with his party on this front, and probably others, will have played a role:
In January, Hagel was the only member of his party on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to support a nonbinding measure critical of President Bush's decision to dispatch an additional 30,000 troops to Iraq.
"There is no strategy. This is a pingpong game with American lives," Hagel said at the time.
Later, he virtually lectured fellow senators about their responsibilities.
"If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes," he said.
"This is a tough business. But is it any tougher, us having to take a tough vote, express ourselves and have the courage to step up on what we're asking our young men and women to do?"
This just adds to the string of bad news for Republican prospects in the 2008 election cycle. Hagel will be the fourth Republican senator up for re-election to announce retirement plans - Warner (R-VA), Allard (R-CO), and the infamous Larry Craig (R-ID) are also planning to retire.
It will be difficult for the Dems to pick up Craig's seat in Idaho, but the Virginia and Colorado seats could easily go Democratic. If Bob Kerrey throws his hat in the ring in Nebraska, and runs an exceptional campaign, the Democrats could pick up another seat there, too. And those aren't the only prospects for the Democrats in 2008...