Another Senate Republican calling it quits
WASHINGTON – Kit Bond has become the third U.S. Senate Republican in three months to announce plans to retire, creating another challenge in his party’s effort to gain seats in the Democratic-led chamber.
The 69-year-old, four-term senator from Missouri disclosed his intentions with a touch of levity in a speech in his state capital of Jefferson City.
“In 1972, I became Missouri’s youngest governor,” Bond said, according to a transcript. “Ladies and gentlemen, I do not aspire to become Missouri’s oldest senator.
Bond’s decision to leave the Senate at the end of his current term in 2010 followed earlier such announcements by Mel Martinez of Florida and Sam Brownback of Kansas.
Each is a blow to Republican efforts to rebound from the poundings they took in the past two elections that saw Democrats gain seats in the Senate and House of Representatives.
“These retirements put Republicans in the defensive mode at the start of the new (election) cycle,” said Nathan Gonzales of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report. “The more open seats there are the more difficult it is to make gains.”
Incumbents traditionally have a number of advantages against challengers, including name recognition and the ability to raise money.
While three Senate Republicans plan to retire, four Democrats from last year’s Senate have or intend to step down to join the new administration — beginning with Barack Obama. He recently gave up his seat from Illinois to prepare to move into the White House.
Joe Biden of Delaware will soon resign from his Senate seat to be sworn in on Jan. 20 as Obama’s vice president.
Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Ken Salazar of Colorado intend to resign once they win anticipated Senate confirmation as Obama’s secretary of state and interior secretary, respectively.
The governors of New York, Delaware and Colorado are expected to replace Biden, Clinton and Salazar with fellow Democrats. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has named a Democrat to replace Obama. But there’s been a battle over the appointment since Blagojevich has been engulfed by a corruption scandal.