NE-Sen: It's Official, Hagel's Out

As expected, Sen. Chuck Hagel today announced both that he'll retire from the senate at the end of this term and will not run for president in 2008.

"I will not seek a third term in the United States Senate, nor do I intend to be a candidate for any office in 2008," Hagel said. "It has been my greatest honor and privilege to serve my country and represent my fellow Nebraskans in the U.S. Senate. My family and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity and the trust placed in me by the people of Nebraska. It has enriched all of us."

Not only does this news set the stage for yet another possible Democratic pick-up (an announcement by former Nebraska governor and senator Bob Kerrey regarding his possible candidacy may come as early as this week,) but it also fuels a "Republicans are in trouble in 2008" narrative that keeps things like this on people's minds:

Ethics have hurt the GOP's image -- sex-related scandals involving Sens. Larry Craig of Idaho and David Vitter of Louisiana, a federal raid of Sen. Ted Stevens' Alaska home in a bribery investigation. Also, the Senate ethics committee is looking into claims that Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., tried to pressure a federal prosecutor in an election probe of Democrats.

And this:

In addition, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens faces a federal corruption investigation, and Idaho Sen. Larry Craig is expected to resign following his arrest in an airport men's room sex sting.

On a more short-term basis, one question that remains in the wake of Warner's and now Hagel's retirement, is will these men, as the well-respected veterans (and not coincidentally, war critics) they are, use their newfound freedom to try to bring about a real change in Iraq policy? Will they step up their criticism of Bush now that we're well into magical September and do more than talk tough (Warner) and vote tough (Hagel) but actually wield their considerable influence to try to change policy? I'm under no illusion that Bush would listen, mind you, but at this point, in the face of Democrats' unwillingness to de-fund, it seems the only thing that might actually have the potential to decrease troop levels in Iraq before what's now becoming magical April is a Republican revolt, something likely only Warner and Hagel have the power to incite.

There's more...

NE-Sen: Hagel Will Not Seek Re-Election

From NNN:

Don Walton confirms it:

Sen. Chuck Hagel will announce Monday he'll not seek re-election next year.

Hagel also will tell an Omaha news conference he does not intend to be a candidate for any office in 2008, clamping a lid on speculation he might be pondering a late-inning presidential bid.

In a prelude to Monday's announcement, he conferred Friday with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Later, Hagel gathered his Washington staff together to inform them of his decision, according to sources close to the senator.

Hagel's departure at the end of 2008 will bring an end to a meteoric 12-year Senate ride that propelled him to national prominence as the most outspoken Republican opponent of President Bush's Iraq war policies.

There's more...

NE-Sen: The Marquee Senate Race of 2008?

From the New Nebraska Network:

The table is set. Labor Day is upon us, and a number of political deadlines are approaching. Decisions ready to be made. Political heavyweights ready to enter the arena, and some apparently ready to exit.

I've devoted quite a bit of virtual ink to this race, repeating myself dozens of times, going over every single sign, detail, rumor, or press account to get a better picture of what I believe is the most important race in Nebraska - for Nebraska - in 2008.

The evolution of this race - from the initial rumors of Hagel's retirement, to Mike Fahey's potential entry into the race, Hagel's March "announcement," and Bruning's primary challenge, followed by Kerrey's interest in a potential candidacy, has been one of the most fascinating stories of this young election cycle.

In Don Walton's article in the Lincoln Journal Star today, this quote stands out:

If it's ultimately Kerrey versus Johanns after 2008 primary voters have spoken and all the smoke has cleared, Nebraska may play host to next year's premier Senate race.

So say Chris Cillizza and Shailagh Murray in The Washington Post.

"A Kerrey-Johanns matchup would be the early front-runner for the marquee race of the 2008 cycle," they wrote last week.

We wait in anticipation for Kerrey's decision. More after the jump...

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NE-Sen: Bob Kerrey Readying A Run To Replace Chuck Hagel

Bob Kerrey, former Nebraska governor, two-term senator (from 1989-2001) and current president of The New School in New York City is making moves toward running for another term in the senate.

Kerrey placed a conference call to New School University trustees in New York City to inform them he may be returning to Nebraska.

A decision on whether to return to his roots and attempt to once again represent Nebraska in the Senate is likely "within the next couple of weeks," Kerrey said in a telephone interview.

There's one condition to his runnning, however: that his friend and former colleague Chuck Hagel doesn't seek re-election. So the question is, does Kerrey know something we don't know?

Kerrey said he has become convinced Sen. Chuck Hagel will not be a candidate for a third term next year.

"I am more and more certain Chuck is not going to seek re-election," Kerrey said, "and my intention is to make my decision before he makes an announcement."

Senate 2008 Guru fills us in that Nebraska's Republican Attorney General, Jon Bruning, who's announced his intention to challenge Hagel for his seat, may be getting the same signals from Hagel. As of late, Bruning has gone from attacking Hagel to attacking yet another Republican in the race, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

Bruning, who had been targeting Hagel for his views on Iraq and immigration, may see Johanns emerging now as the chief obstacle standing between him and the 2008 Republican Senate nomination.

Kerrey's entrance into the race would immediately make it a top tier pick up opportunity, expanding the playing field even beyond the 10 or so seats most commonly cited as in play for Democrats. And it would be yet another feather in the cap of recruiter in chief Chuck Schumer.

There's more...

Poll: Invite Hagel to Switch Parties?

Let me state a few obvious points, then open the floor.

One one hand, Chuck Hagel is far more with us on Iraq than the junior Senator from Connecticut.  Should Hagel join the Democrats, we would no longer be dependent on Chicken Hawk Joe for our Senate majority.

On the other hand, Hagel's record on social and economic issues isn't what one would call progressive (anti-choice, pro-Bush tax cuts, etc.).  Do we really want to try and accomodate him on those fronts?  

There's more...


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