The speculation of whether Chuck Hagel would run for the Republican nomination for president has ended as word came earlier today that Hagel will announce on Monday “that he is retiring from the U.S. Senate and will not run for president next year.”
Hagel plans to announce that “he will not run for re-election and that he does not intend to be a candidate for any office in 2008,” said one person, who asked not to be named.
Hagel has scheduled a press conference for 10 a.m. Monday at the Omaha Press Club.
According to one person interviewed, Hagel told Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Friday morning that he had decided to retire. Hagel’s staff learned of his decision that afternoon.
Hagel has been an outspoken critic of Bush’s Iraq War policies and on “other key issues, including Social Security and foreign policy.”
His national profile reached its zenith in March, when he headed to Omaha to hold a press conference on his political future.
But amid wide speculation that he was leaning toward a White House run, Hagel announced that he would disclose his plans later in the year.
His pending retirement leaves another GOP Senate seat without an incumbent at a time when the Republican Party is struggling to stem potential losses and must defend more seats than Democrats.
Among the names floated recently of those possibly interested in Hagel’s Senate seat is former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey. Kerrey has expressed an interest in possibly running for Hagel’s seat.
Chris Cillizza notes on The Fix:
The news that Hagel will leave the Senate creates a potentially competitive open seat, with former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) and former Gov. Mike Johanns (R) — two titans of Cornhusker politics — mentioned prominently as his replacement.
Hagel is the third Republican senator to announce he will not seek reelection next November. He follows Sens. John Warner (Va.) and Wayne Allard (Colo.) out the door.
Hagel’s decision is just the “latest political setback for the Republican Party in its effort to prevent Democrats from extending their majority in Congress next year.” Good luck to the Republicans who are in the position of having to defend 22 seats in ’08, while Democrats only have 12 seats to retain. It’s time for the Democratic Party to pull out all the stops and bust ass to gain some of these seats. Booman noted a few days ago that “Democrats, come 2011, could find themselves with a 75-25 majority.” There’s something to be working for folks!