Ohio Sen. Voinovich to retire. Could Joe the Plumber run for Senate?

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Are there any Republican Senators who want to stick around?

Ohio Senator George Voinovich is expected to announce this afternoon that he will not seek re-election.  That makes four Republican senators who are planning to step down in 2010.

He joins Florida Senator Mel Martinez, Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, and Missouri Senator Kit Bond in saying 'no mas.'

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Ch-ch-ch-changes

It would be a change of heart for the two-term senator.  The Columbus Dispatch quotes the chair of Ohio's Republican Party as saying the 40-year veteran of politics might want to spend more time with his family instead of making policy.

"He may be having second thoughts," Robert Bennett said. "I think George is looking at eight years, when he will be 81 and (his wife) Janet will be 85. He's a family man."

Who's got next?

Just like with the other announcements, the focus is not so much on the retiree but who's on deck.  Out with the old, in with the new.

Political pundits look at former Congressman Rob Portman as a likely candidate.  Another former congressman who's been all over TV since his retirement -- John Kasich -- is a possibility as is former Senator Mike DeWine.

On the left, the Cleveland Plain Dealer points to Representative Tim Ryan and Lt. Governor Lee Fisher as possible contenders.  While the Cincinnati Enquirermentions Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.

Gulp

Politico reports that the wave of retirements is causing some Republicans to "panic" but Utah Senator Orrin Hatch puts it in perspective.

"I'm really concerned because it's important we have some balance here because if we don't, one side can do whatever it wants to do, and that's not good for the country," Hatch said. "To the extent that some of these folks decide to leave, and they certainly have the right to do that, we're going to have to find good candidates to run and hopefully hold onto our seats."

Joe the Senator

What about that guy from Ohio who campaigned with John McCain.  You know, Joe the Plumber?

In a matter of months, Wurzelbacher (his real last name) has gone from kind-of plumber to McCain prop to kind-of author to war correspondent in Israel.

By the way, in case you haven't heard, that last part is true.  We told you about this last week.  Wurzelbacher is actually in Israel and he's covering the fighting for a conservative web site.

So, why not fill out the resume with U.S. Senator?

Bring it on

He told conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham last October that he was interested in Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur's seat and was mulling a run.

"I'll tell you what, we'd definitely be in one heck of a fight but, you know, I'd be up for it," he said.

No way, you say?  The Arizona Cardinals are in the NFC Championship game.

Anything - anything - is possible.

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