The Washington Times - May 13, 2011, 03:49PM

Four-term Sen. Herb Kohl said Friday he will not seek re-election next year, leaving his Wisconsin seat wide open and giving Democrats yet another spot they’ll have to defend in order to hold onto the upper chamber.

He becomes the fifth Senate Democrat to announce his resignation and, combined with Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent who usually sides with Democrats, signals a widespread retreat from the majority party.


“The time has come to give someone else the opportunity to serve,” Mr. Kohl said.

The wealthy businessman — he and his brother ran the eponymous department stores started by his father, before he later bought the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks — self-funded his previous campaigns, and political handicappers said he was likely to keep Wisconsin in the Democratic column without costing his national party much money or effort had he decided to run. His departure, though, makes it more likely the party will have to invest there, stretching limited resources even further.

Liberal interest groups are already clamoring for former Sen. Russell Feingold, who lost his re-election bid last year, to jump in the race.

On the Republican side, there are several lawmakers who could take a look at the race, including Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee.