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Another GOP senator to retire

- The Washington Times - Monday, January 12, 2009

Ohio Republican Sen. George V. Voinovich announced Monday he won't seek a third term in 2010, citing a desire to spend more time with his family.

"After the next two years, it will be time to give someone else the opportunity to serve our great state in the Senate, someone who can devote full time to organizing their campaign and raising the money necessary to win," Mr. Voinovich said.

"This has not been an easy decision for us. I still have the fire in my belly to do the work of our nation, but after serving the next two years, it will be time to step back and spend the rest of our time with our children and grandchildren, siblings and extended family and friends."

The Ohioan is among a growing list of Senate Republicans who have said they will step down at the conclusion of their terms. Joining him will be Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Mel Martinez of Florida and Christopher S. Bond of Missouri.

The retirements will pose a challenge for Republican efforts in 2010 to recapture control of the Senate, which they surrendered to Democrats two years ago. Republicans must defend 20 seats then, compared with 17 for the Democrats.

"It's normal when you have one party go from the majority to the minority and (then) even further into the minority to have incumbents chose not to run again," said a senior Senate Republican aide. "It's certainly disappointing but I don't think it was anything that was not expected."

The aide added the departures will allow for a fresh wave Republicans to run for the Senate, a prospect that could energize the party and help turn around disappointing election results in 2006 and 2008.

"We may not win the seats (in 2010), but there will be opportunities for a new generation of Republicans to run for office," the aide said.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn acknowledged his party face a "competitive environment" in the 2010 Senate elections for incumbent and new candidates alike. But he said the party already has identified several experience and well-known candidates capable to raising campaign money to run for Mr. Voinovich's seat. "At the end of the day, I am confident that our nominee will represent the values and priorities of the voters in the Buckeye State," the Texas senator said.

Mr. Voinovich, 72, Ohio's senior senator and former mayor of Cleveland, was re-elected to a second six-year term in 2004 with 64 percent of the vote. He serves on the Senate's environment and public works, foreign relations and homeland security committees.

Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander called Mr. Voinovich "one of our finest senators."

"George Voinovich has given the people of Ohio and America his best years — as mayor, governor, and senator," Mr. Alexander said. He "will be greatly missed."