Deborah Pryce (R-OH), an 8-term congressperson from the Columbus area, announced her retirement today. Pryce--who was the 4th ranking member of the Repub majority in the House in the last Congress--barely squeaked out re-election last year, and her opponent had already announced plans to run again. As if that were not bad enough, the district has been trending (as they say) Democratic for years.
This news comes on the heels of former Speaker Dennis Hastert's (R-IL) announcement yesterday that he, too is hanging them up. Hastert followed fellow Illinois Republican Ray LaHood in announcing his retirement.
All three of these seats present opportunities for the Democrats to pick up seats. Even if the GOP is able to hold on to them with rookie candidates, it will have to use valuable resources to do so--and in an age when, mirable dictu, the Democrats have far more congressional campaign money.
Over on the Senate side, Wayne Allard (R-CO) has announced his retirement in a state that has been turning more blue. In Minnesota, smarmy Democratic turncoat Norm Coleman faces a challenge from comedian Al Franken. Some commentators wrote Franken off early, but he has a national fund-raising operation (and profile), he's genuinely funny--a skill too little found in politics today--and Coleman is going to be in trouble for backing George W so often. The bridge collapse in Minneapolis is also going to present a tough obstacle to all Minnesota Republicans. (Remember when the phrase "Minnesota Republican" could have been used to describe a group barely big enough to fill a phone booth?) Finally, in Maine--another state that has been turning more blue--Cong. Tom Allen is taking on Susan Collins (R-ME), whose recent votes on the war show how nervous she is.
With a little good fortune and a lot of hard work, Democrats will substantially expand their congressional majorities in 2008.