Looks like Ohio Senator George Voinovich will be stepping down rather than running for re-election in 2010. With Kit Bond of Missouri, Mel Martinez of Florida and Sam Brownback of Kansas all also retiring, the GOP is basically destined to be playing defense that year. Those are three good pickup opportunities for Democrats plus a bonus fourth opportunity in Kansas if Kathleen Sebelius will get in the race.
But perhaps more interesting is what impact this will have on Voinovich’s voting in the 111th Senate. Along with Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Specter, Voinovich is a guy who you’d consider one of the “most likely to defect” Senators in order to help progressive bills overcome conservative filibuster efforts. But absent a re-election campaign, he won’t be torn between a need to play to the base to raise funds and a need to tack to the middle to get votes. He can just do what he wants. But nobody’s quite sure what that’ll be.