Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kent Conrad announces retirement; Joe Lieberman expected to follow suit tomorrow

The 2010 midterms are only a few weeks behind us, but already incumbent members of Congress are starting to reveal their plans to run for reelection (or lack thereof) just a few days after the convening of the 112th Congress.

North Dakota's Kent Conrad, sixty-two, became the first incumbent senator to announce his retirement. "After months of consideration, I have decided not to seek reelection in 2012," he said in a statement. "There are serious challenges facing our State and nation, like a $14 trillion debt and America's dependence on foreign oil. It is more important I spend my time and energy trying to solve these problems than to be distracted by a campaign for reelection."

Conrad's decision will likely make it more difficult for Democrats to keep control of the Senate in 2012, as North Dakota is a difficult state for a Democrat to win. However, there are several well-known Democrats in North Dakota who could conceivably hold the seat, including Earl Pomeroy, who lost his seat in the House of Representatives in November. Former attorney general Heidi Heitkamp is another possibility, although she has not expressed any interest in running.

Joe Lieberman is likewise expected to confirm tomorrow that he will not seek reelection. Lieberman was ousted from the Democratic Party in 2006 by a spirited challenge from cable executive Ned Lamont. Lamont won the primary, but lost the general election to Lieberman, who created his own political party and rode a wave of Republican support to victory.

Lieberman and his friends undoubtedly know that they wouldn't be able to pull off that stunt in 2012 if they tried. Neither major party wants Lieberman as their nominee, and the Republicans would rather attempt to capture the office for themselves instead of helping Lieberman beat another Democrat.

Susan Bysiewicz, the former Democratic Secretary of State for Connecticut, had earlier announced her plans to seek the party's nomination for U.S. Senate in 2012. With Lieberman now out of the picture, she will likely have some serious competition from Representative Chris Murphy.

"My interest in running for Senate in 2012 is well known in the state, and I expect to announce my decision very soon," Murphy said in a news release. "All I can say now is that this is going to be a pretty busy few weeks."

Meanwhile, Republican Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana, who is one of the more reasonable and coolheaded minds in the caucus, announced he would seek a seventh term. His announcement was no doubt prompted in part by the knowledge that right wing extremists are already plotting a strategy for denying him the Republican nomination.

Lugar spoke about the challenge of having to fend off a "tea party" opponent this morning at an event sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

Lugar's decision isn't necessary good news for Democrats, but the country undoubtedly benefits from having at least one sane person in the Senate Republican caucus who isn't ignorant of international affairs.


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