» What’s going on? Well, it’s a mix of this and that. A few of the retirees clearly weren’t going to win re-election, namely John Ensign and “Cowboy Joe” Lieberman. A few could have won but faced uphill battles (Jim Webb, Kent Conrad). Hawaii’s Daniel Akaka is just really old, and Kay Bailey Hutchison had promised that she’d retire if she lost her bid for Texas Governor (which she did). But some of the retirements — Jeff Bingaman and John Kyl in particular — seemingly came out of nowhere. We’ll just have to take ‘em at their word when they say what politicians always say when they retire: they want to spend more time with their families.
» Why not? Basically, the Texas Senator is afraid of falling victim to a Tea Party challenge. She has good reason, too: In a September poll, only 25% of Republicans said they’d support her for renomination. Granted, she does have a not-so-bad approval rating of 58%, but, as Public Policy Polling points out, both Lisa Murkowski and Mike Castle had even higher numbers prior to their primaries, and both lost to Tea Party challengers. In an entirely unrelated development, Texas Democrats were seen licking their chops shortly after Hutchison’s announcement.