Democrat Herb Kohl retiring from Senate, opening up competitive race

Jeff Winkler Contributor
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Democratic Senator Herb Kohl is announcing today that he will not seek reelection in 2012. The Wisconsin veteran is expected to retire, according to Democratic sources close to the senator.

Kohl’s Wisconsin seat will be a highlight in 2012. Already a long-time swing state, Wisconsin has received plenty of focus and attention in the past few months over the budget battle between Republican Scott Walker and Labor interest groups as well as rising Republican star Rep. Paul Ryan, whose own national budget plan has put him in the spotlight.

As a result of the retirement, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s “6 in ’12” campaign now appears to be “7 in ’12.” In early April, DSCC chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray was confident of the chances of not only forcefully racking up Democrat wins in these hot states, but also retaining Kohl for a reelection.

“Murray also said she’s confident that there will be no more Democratic retirements ahead of 2012,” reported The Hill. “Retirement speculation still surrounds Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), who has not officially announced his 2012 intentions.”

Speculative Democratic candidates include Rep. Ron Kind and former Sen. Russ Feingold. As for Republicans, Rep. Paul Ryan is the “obvious” choice, according to The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza.

Kohl, who was first elected in 1988, is holding his press conference in Milwakee at noon CST.

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