Kohl to retire

posted at 10:55 am on May 13, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Another Democrat has decided to retire from the Senate rather than face re-election, and this one will hurt.  Herb Kohl, currently serving his fourth term in the upper chamber, will announce that he will not seek re-election.  Not only does that force Democrats to field a new candidate in Wisconsin, a state that turned Republican in 2010, it means that they lose someone with the potential to be a self-funder as well:

Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl will announce his retirement today according to an informed Democratic source, a decision that sets up a competitive open seat contest in a state that has already drawn considerable national attention this year.

Kohl will make it official this morning with a noon announcement in Wisconsin, the source said. His office did not return an email seeking comment.

Democrats tell Chris Cillizza that they’re looking forward to the race because Scott Walker’s PEU reforms have “energized the party.”  Unfortunately for the party, it will also have drained union coffers at a particularly tough moment in Wisconsin politics.  It’s also worth noting that the unions with their full financial power still intact couldn’t even unseat a targeted Supreme Court justice in an off-year election.  That sounds more like bravado than cogent political analysis.

Who will Democrats tap for the nomination?  Cillizza suggests that Russ Feingold might want to make a comeback, but that would be a desperation shot.  Feingold’s hard-Left (but honest!) progressivism has clearly faded from favor everywhere but Madison and parts of Milwaukee.  Feingold lost an election to a novice last year, and it wasn’t even close.  Republicans swept the election, and this year they delivered the best budget in almost two decades, wiping out a series of Democratic billion-dollar-deficit plans.  Wisconsin might be open to a Democratic moderate, but they’ll laugh the big-spending Feingold out of the race.

Kohl apparently got the sense of the political situation in Wisconsin and got out.  If the party was really as energized as Cillizza’s Democratic sources claim, he’d be running for a fifth term.  This race already promised to be a fun watch, and now it just got even better for Republicans.

Update: National Journal notes that this is the sixth Democratic retirement in the Senate (including Joe Lieberman), to three for the GOP, which included John Ensign.  They also point out that Kohl is leading the Senate review of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger.

Update II: Steve Eggleston gives an excellent analysis of the bench on both sides in our Green Room.


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With 22 seats up and 6 retirements, this looks to be a bloodbath for the Dems in 2012.

They’ll probably retain at least two of the open seats, in Hawaii and Connecticut, but will end up blowing a LOT of money in the process thanks to the primaries.

teke184 on May 13, 2011 at 10:57 AM

Democrats tell Chris Cillizza that they’re looking forward to the race because Scott Walker’s PEU reforms have “energized the party.”

He just doesn’t realize which party!

Tommy_G on May 13, 2011 at 10:58 AM

The question now becomes “who will the GOP run in WI?”

The first name that comes to mind is Paul Ryan.

However…

I’m not too sure I want Ryan leaving the House. I think he can be FAR more effective in the lower chamber as opposed to the Senate. If he runs of course all of us would back him, but he would leave a huge budgetary void from where he is coming from.

Anybody see my point?

Indy82 on May 13, 2011 at 10:58 AM

Whoa….that dude gives me the creeps.

Bishop on May 13, 2011 at 10:59 AM

We’re taking the Senate next year. Count it, mark it, take it to the bank. We may have blown our chance last year with some idiotic primary decisions, but we know better now.

We just won a statewide election in Wisconsin, while the unions just threw away the last of their coffers. Let’s also not forget the sheer volume of kneecaps Trumka’s going to have to break to deliver Wisconsin to Obama in 2012. You think he’s going to have the time or money even to consider holding this seat?

KingGold on May 13, 2011 at 11:01 AM

This is good news for a Friday!..:)

Dire Straits on May 13, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Better for Ryan to stay in the House, where spending bills have to originate. It takes too long to work yourself up to having much influence in the Senate. And if he lost the Senate race, it would be a true disaster.

Byron on May 13, 2011 at 11:02 AM

Kohl apparently got the sense of the political situation in Wisconsin and got out. If the party was really as energized as Cillizza’s Democratic sources claim, he’d be running for a fifth term. This race already promised to be a fun watch, and now it just got even better for Republicans.

Geez, could you imagine Wisconsin of all places with the Governor’s office and both Senate seats being held by Republicans come 2013? And people think Obama’s a shoo-in for reelection in that kind of political environment?

Doughboy on May 13, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Dems have twice the seats up, so it’s not a great shocker that they have more retirements.

Ryan belongs in the House, it’s where money bills start from. The only other place I could see him is the White House.

amazingmets on May 13, 2011 at 11:03 AM

They also point out that Kohl is leading the Senate review of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger.

So he has a good job lined up for himself then?

forest on May 13, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Indy82 on May 13, 2011 at 10:58 AM

I agree.. At first I thought Paul Ryan..BUT he is a huge asset in the House!..I’m torn here!..:)

Dire Straits on May 13, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Democrats tell Chris Cillizza that they’re looking forward to the race because Scott Walker’s PEU reforms have “energized the communist party.”

darwin on May 13, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Another retarded liberal Democrat fades away. Good riddens, you schmuck.

Jaibones on May 13, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Yeah get russ, he can do it

/

cmsinaz on May 13, 2011 at 11:05 AM

Who?

Pablo Snooze on May 13, 2011 at 11:05 AM

Looks like the swamp is being drained after all!

cartooner on May 13, 2011 at 11:05 AM

I wonder what MadCon thinks of this.

upinak on May 13, 2011 at 11:07 AM

Keep Ryan where he is for now

cmsinaz on May 13, 2011 at 11:07 AM

cmsinaz on May 13, 2011 at 11:05 AM

LOL!.. We (GOP) just have to keep McCain from politicing for Russ!.. :)

Dire Straits on May 13, 2011 at 11:08 AM

Is Wisconsin going deep Red in 2012?

A really good Senatorial candidate might have some coat tails combined with a mid-western Presidential Nominee (Pawlenty or Daniels). Maybe an electoral perfect storm?

Prior to this year I had no animosity towards liberal Madison, but now, it would be marvelous to see those thugs lose more power!

petunia on May 13, 2011 at 11:08 AM

I wonder what MadCon thinks of this.

upinak on May 13, 2011 at 11:07 AM

He will be happy!..:)

Dire Straits on May 13, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Remember when they were saying the Republicans had lost power for the next 40 years?

petunia on May 13, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Dire Straits on May 13, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Ambivalent? Just ask this – who’s doing more to advance our party right now? Paul Ryan, or the combined efforts of Pat Toomey, Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn, and Jim Inhofe?

KingGold on May 13, 2011 at 11:10 AM

buh-bye then. Please let the door hit you on the way out.

search4truth on May 13, 2011 at 11:11 AM

It’s also worth noting that the unions with their full financial power still intact couldn’t even unseat a targeted Supreme Court justice in an off-year election.

Hey now! The recount isn’t even over yet. Kloppenburg could still win! In fact, I think she will.

This post will never come back to bite me in the ass.

/crr6

steebo77 on May 13, 2011 at 11:12 AM

They should run this guy.

forest on May 13, 2011 at 11:12 AM

Remember when they were saying the Republicans had lost power for the next 40 years?

petunia on May 13, 2011 at 11:09 AM

You were probably one of those people.

steebo77 on May 13, 2011 at 11:12 AM

KingGold on May 13, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Very good point!..:)

Dire Straits on May 13, 2011 at 11:13 AM

Ryan belongs in the House, it’s where money bills start from. The only other place I could see him is the White House.

amazingmets on May 13, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Amen, either 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. or he stays in the House.

msmveritas on May 13, 2011 at 11:14 AM

2012 is shaping up as a bloodbath for Democrats. Throw in the current state of the economy – and with no real signs of improvement – libs are going to be crying in their bottled water.

I’m sure it’s just a ‘messaging problem’. Not the message itself.

GarandFan on May 13, 2011 at 11:16 AM

I wonder what MadCon thinks of this.

upinak on May 13, 2011 at 11:07 AM

He may be mad.

Lanceman on May 13, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Maybe that old bat klopper will run when she gets the boot for judge in WI?
L

letget on May 13, 2011 at 11:19 AM

Lanceman on May 13, 2011 at 11:16 AM

With this good news ..is it too early to start drinking yet?!?..:)

Dire Straits on May 13, 2011 at 11:20 AM

Is Wisconsin going deep Red in 2012?

Eh, I think the unions (it is redundant to say “unions and Democrat party”, since the former owns the latter) are “energized” enough to make winning there a tough battle. But, doable, as the Prosser election showed.

Vyce on May 13, 2011 at 11:23 AM

They also point out that Kohl is leading the Senate review of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger.
So he has a good job lined up for himself then?

forest on May 13, 2011 at 11:03 AM

My thoughts exactly.

tinkerthinker on May 13, 2011 at 11:24 AM

Indeed DS, but the maverick that he is will just thumb his nose at us

cmsinaz on May 13, 2011 at 11:24 AM

Wisconsin might be open to a Democratic moderate, but they’ll laugh the big-spending Feingold out of the race.

Ed, you’ve got a lot more faith in the WI Dems and voters than I do.

mankai on May 13, 2011 at 11:25 AM

In the next few weeks the media will leak out that Ruth will retire from the Supreme Court. Good old George Soros will tell her she needs to spend time with her family.

BroncosRock on May 13, 2011 at 11:26 AM

Ruth HAS TO retire NEXT MONTH or the COMMUNIST WILL LOSE THE Supreme Court for a LONG LONG LONG TIME.

BroncosRock on May 13, 2011 at 11:27 AM

Cheers DS :)

cmsinaz on May 13, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Good f**king riddance. That worthless creep has been sitting on that Senate position for years doing nothing but talking about his beloved Bucks. While I disagreed with Feingold, at least he made his mark and made a reputation. Kohl has nothing. Just a doddering old ninny killing time on the Senate Subcommittee on Aging.

MadisonConservative on May 13, 2011 at 11:32 AM

BroncosRock on May 13, 2011 at 11:26 AM

BroncosRock on May 13, 2011 at 11:27 AM

What are you on about, dude? What changes next month that Obama would not be able to replace Ginsburg if she retires after that?

KingGold on May 13, 2011 at 11:32 AM

KingGold on May 13, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Voter ID is good for 10,000 less fraudulent votes for Democrats, 20,000 total for Democrats.

WoosterOh on May 13, 2011 at 11:33 AM

Indeed DS, but the maverick that he is will just thumb his nose at us

cmsinaz on May 13, 2011 at 11:24 AM

LOL!..You have a point about the Maverick!..:)

Dire Straits on May 13, 2011 at 11:33 AM

And I’ll also give Feingold this: he and his office would respond rather promptly to questions and correspondence. Sending something to Kohl was like throwing it in the trash. Nothing would ever come of it.

MadisonConservative on May 13, 2011 at 11:33 AM

Cheers DS :)

cmsinaz on May 13, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Boy it is tempting!..:)

Dire Straits on May 13, 2011 at 11:34 AM

I saw him last winter, he didn’t appear then that he was long for this world.

lowandslow on May 13, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Another great sign pointing to a 2012 Democrat sweep!!
– crr6

angryed on May 13, 2011 at 11:34 AM

MadisonConservative on May 13, 2011 at 11:33 AM

Any opinion on who GOP should run?.. Neumann?..??..:)

Dire Straits on May 13, 2011 at 11:35 AM

With this good news ..is it too early to start drinking yet?!?..:)

Dire Straits on May 13, 2011 at 11:20 AM

As I always used to say, “Somewhere, Ted Kennedy is already half in the bag.”

Lanceman on May 13, 2011 at 11:35 AM

Just a doddering old ninny killing time on the Senate Subcommittee on Aging.

MadisonConservative on May 13, 2011 at 11:32 AM

Just a doddering old ninny aging on the Senate Subcommittee on Killing Time.

/Fixed for metaphorical accuracy

mankai on May 13, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Geez, could you imagine Wisconsin of all places with the Governor’s office and both Senate seats being held by Republicans come 2013? And people think Obama’s a shoo-in for reelection in that kind of political environment?

Doughboy on May 13, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Weird isn’t it? WI could very well have 2 GOP Sens, a GOP gov and a GOP state house/senate.

Yet Montana has 2 Dem Sens (very, very liberal Dems) and a Dem gov.

The world doesn’t make sense these days.

angryed on May 13, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Too bad, I like shopping at his department store… :P

jeffn21 on May 13, 2011 at 11:38 AM

I feel all mavericky.
Imma go take a shower.

Lanceman on May 13, 2011 at 11:39 AM

Ed, you’ve got a lot more faith in the WI Dems and voters than I do.

mankai on May 13, 2011 at 11:25 AM

I think that a lot of people there are polarized because of the whole Dems/unions showdown with Walker.

Running a union shill like Feingold, who was never hugely popular in the state to begin with and got thumped by a relative unknown in 2010, is a recipe for an easy Dem loss.

teke184 on May 13, 2011 at 11:39 AM

As I always used to say, “Somewhere, Ted Kennedy is already half in the bag.”

Lanceman on May 13, 2011 at 11:35 AM

Good point!..:)

Dire Straits on May 13, 2011 at 11:40 AM

:) DS

cmsinaz on May 13, 2011 at 11:40 AM

I think when all is said and done, Obama will be the best thing to happen to the Republican party since Jimmy Carter!

jeffn21 on May 13, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Any opinion on who GOP should run?.. Neumann?..??..:)

Dire Straits on May 13, 2011 at 11:35 AM

If they hadn’t tapped Reince Priebus for GOP Chair, I’d have said him. I like Neumann, but I think he’s just too damn nice to really go anywhere in today’s political atmosphere.

I’d be curious to see if Alberta Darling or Neal Kedzie have any interest.

MadisonConservative on May 13, 2011 at 11:41 AM

jeffn21 on May 13, 2011 at 11:40 AM

I hope so!..:)

Dire Straits on May 13, 2011 at 11:42 AM

Yet Montana has 2 Dem Sens (very, very liberal Dems) and a Dem gov.

The world doesn’t make sense these days.

angryed on May 13, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Until January of this year, North Dakota’s entire federal delegation was Democrat. In two years, it will be all Republican.

As for Montana, yeah. I don’t envy them. I may have a liberal gov and two Communist senators, but at least my state is blue New York, not red Monatana.

KingGold on May 13, 2011 at 11:44 AM

MadisonConservative on May 13, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Thanks for the info!.. I hope GOP can field a good candidate and make the Dems spend a lot of $$$ to defend this seat!..:)

Dire Straits on May 13, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Let’s not get too excited over a Republican takeover of the Senate with regards to Obama. Lots of people will vote GOP for the senate and still vote Obama for prez. I don’t get how someone could do that personally, but it happens.

In 1984 Reagan won 49 states, yet the Dems picked up a Senate seat. In 1996, Clinton won big as well, yet Reps picked up 2 seats.

angryed on May 13, 2011 at 11:45 AM

MadisonConservative on May 13, 2011 at 11:32 AM

Don’t hold back – tell us what you really think about Nobody’s Senator :-)

Steve Eggleston on May 13, 2011 at 11:46 AM

I disagree with those who think Ryan should not jump at this chance. A term and re-elect as senator would put him in a perfect spot to run for the WH in 2020.

Think about how cool it would be to have Ryan as the Budget chairman in the senate! I don’t even know who the ranking republican is for that post, but given Ryan’s street-cred on all things budget, McConnel would be a fool to not – at least – consider that possibility.

Deafdog on May 13, 2011 at 11:46 AM

Oh…and Michelle Litjens. I’d say that’d be a nice follow-up to being threatened by that scumbag.

MadisonConservative on May 13, 2011 at 11:46 AM

MadCon may or many not agree with my first look at who’s in the running to succeed Nobody’s Senator, but it is a “first look”.

Steve Eggleston on May 13, 2011 at 11:48 AM

As for Montana, yeah. I don’t envy them. I may have a liberal gov and two Communist senators, but at least my state is blue New York, not red Monatana.

KingGold on May 13, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Montana is socially conservative but also loves govt pork. As long as a Dem is relatively pro-gun, they can be Karl Marx’s twin brother on all other issues and they’ll get elected as long as they bring home the pork. The “cut govt spending” message doesn’t resonate so well to people that are addicted to spending.

angryed on May 13, 2011 at 11:50 AM

Kohl was going to get his a** kicked anyway. Four terms in the Senate and no one is sure what the guy even does.

PackerBronco on May 13, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Steve Eggleston on May 13, 2011 at 11:48 AM

Good post!.. :)

Dire Straits on May 13, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Any opinion on who GOP should run?.. Neumann?..??..:)

Dire Straits on May 13, 2011 at 11:35 AM

State Attorney General, Van Hollen?

PackerBronco on May 13, 2011 at 11:54 AM

PackerBronco on May 13, 2011 at 11:54 AM

Sounds good!..Steve Egg has a good post on this race in the Green Room!..:)

Dire Straits on May 13, 2011 at 12:02 PM

MadCon may or many not agree with my first look at who’s in the running to succeed Nobody’s Senator, but it is a “first look”.

Steve Eggleston on May 13, 2011 at 11:48 AM

While I think the viability of those names is spot on…I personally hope they don’t actually consider it. Van Hollen and Ryan are right where they need to be. Neumann, I think, is a lost cause. I’ll eat broken glass if Tommy Thompson pops up again. I just want him to go away. Tim Michels, though, is a possibility. And if Ron Kind turns out to be the Democratic nominee, I’ll actually breathe a sigh of relief. I’m more afraid of David Obey making noise.

And if Tammy Baldwin actually vacates her House seat…f**k it, I’ll run.

MadisonConservative on May 13, 2011 at 12:02 PM

I also think Ryan should stay where he is. I agree with Madcon that Kohl never get backs to you when you email him. I’m glad he’s leaving though. I’m glad the Dems blew a lot of money up there, less for them to spend this go around. The suburbs are really going to vote in masse so we don’t have to have a close race like Prosser.

Brat4life on May 13, 2011 at 12:04 PM

Supreme Court retirement usually happens right after the session ends or close to it.

That is what I meant by the media leaking Ruth will retire.

BroncosRock on May 13, 2011 at 12:07 PM

Someone else to resign from working with bho.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/05/13/mideast-envoy-plans-resign-failed-peace-talks/?test=latestnews
L

letget on May 13, 2011 at 12:08 PM

Ambivalent? Just ask this – who’s doing more to advance our party right now? Paul Ryan, or the combined efforts of Pat Toomey, Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn, and Jim Inhofe?

KingGold on May 13, 2011 at 11:10 AM

That’s easy…Imam Obama.

ornery_independent on May 13, 2011 at 12:10 PM

hmmmmm….interesting, very interesting.

“Ryan to Speak About Kohl Seat Friday”
http://www.rollcall.com/news/-205593-1.html

tencole on May 13, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Re: Russ Feingold

Me think Feingold will attribute general bad economy (really due to Obama/Dem policies and ineptness) to Gov. Walker’s faults, and run for the governorship instead.

And he just might pull it off.

Sir Napsalot on May 13, 2011 at 12:20 PM

And if Tammy Baldwin actually vacates her House seat…f**k it, I’ll run.

MadisonConservative on May 13, 2011 at 12:02 PM

Well, you could count on raising a few bucks here if we knew where to send it. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to start laying the groundwork with your county GOP. Run, Maddie, run!

cynccook on May 13, 2011 at 12:31 PM

Kloppenburg for Senate!!!!!

djm1992 on May 13, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Kloppenburg for Senate!!!!!

djm1992 on May 13, 2011 at 12:40 PM

+ Eleventy eleven!!

Khun Joe on May 13, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Not a bad Friday the 13th.

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2011 at 1:16 PM

Just think, the unions have to have voluntary dues, so their war chest will be lower by at least 90%. They just blew their wad on that stupid woman for the court race. AND they are blowing more of their wad on the recall campaigns. They will be broke for the 2012 regular election cycles.

Level playing field finally.

karenhasfreedom on May 13, 2011 at 1:18 PM

Yet Montana has 2 Dem Sens (very, very liberal Dems) and a Dem gov.

The world doesn’t make sense these days.

angryed on May 13, 2011 at 11:37 AM

That’s because of all the Californians who moved there and screwed the place up. Liberals are good at ruining a place and then moving on (usually with a big fat public employee pension) to ruin someplace else. Colorado and New Mexico are other examples of viral, liberal mission creep.

skeneogden on May 13, 2011 at 1:40 PM

That’s because of all the Californians who moved there and screwed the place up. Liberals are good at ruining a place and then moving on (usually with a big fat public employee pension) to ruin someplace else. Colorado and New Mexico are other examples of viral, liberal mission creep.

skeneogden on May 13, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Locusts.

BobMbx on May 13, 2011 at 1:55 PM

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/05/13/mideast-envoy-plans-resign-failed-peace-talks/?test=latestnews
L

letget on May 13, 2011 at 12:08 PM

From the link:

He [Obama] didn’t address the resignation directly, but added that

Mitchell is also “a good friend.”

Oh yeah…I bet Barack and George go waaaaay back.

BobMbx on May 13, 2011 at 1:58 PM

angryed on May 13, 2011 at 11:45 AM

Yeah. Go figure. In 2008, North Carolina elected its first Republican House and Senate since reconstruction. And voted for Obama.

BigAlSouth on May 13, 2011 at 4:03 PM

And if Tammy Baldwin actually vacates her House seat…f**k it, I’ll run.

MadisonConservative on May 13, 2011 at 12:02 PM

Get your running shoes – multiple sources are reporting Baldin is “very likely” to run for the Senate.

Steve Eggleston on May 13, 2011 at 4:47 PM

So long, Herbert. This is one Wisconsin conservative who will not miss you.

Sterling Holobyte on May 13, 2011 at 4:53 PM

Who is kidding who here? For once and for all, Let me set the record straight, okay? Senator “Do-Nothing” retired the first day of his first term. In fact, the only reason Senator “Do-Nothing” became a Senator was for the page…boys! Did I just say that, or was I thinking that…

JimmyGee on May 13, 2011 at 5:02 PM