Senator John Warner's announcement that he is retiring after five terms and thirty years in the Senate has put a solid Republican Senate seat up for grabs in the 2008 election. Warner would have been a shoo-in for re-election and his absence is going to leave a gaping hole in the Republican Party's strategy for retaking the Senate.
This also means that former Democratic governor Mark Warner (no relation to John) could now decide to enter the race for the seat. Mark Warner ended his single term as governor of Virginia with high approval ratings, but had sworn off running if his friend John Warner decided to run for re-election. Senator Jim Webb's defeat of former Senator Macaca (aka George Allen) demonstrates that Virginia is increasingly moving into the swing state category after decades as a safe Republican state.
The nomination fight among the Republicans will probably include former Gov. Jim Gilmore and U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis.
Later today, embattled Idaho Senator Larry Craig is expected to announce his resignation as well. Democrats will also be eying beleaguered Ted Stevens of Alaska and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska who could also decide to throw in the towel.
Alaska, Nebraska and Idaho are all considered strong red states but stranger things have happened. One of Nebraska's senators is a Democrat and Alaska has recently had a Democratic governor demonstrating that Democrats can win statewide races in these red states. Additionally, if, as now seems likely, the President is successful in playing out the clock on Iraq for the remainder of his presidency we could see a level of voter rage over Iraq that dwarfs what we saw in 2006. Republicans will be on the defensive once again, forced to defend an increasingly unpopular war.
Any way you slice it, the electoral math for the Democrats looks a lot better today than it did at the beginning of the week.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!