Another person facing retirement rumors is Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). But there's no good reason Kyl would retire in 2012 -- he'll only be 70 in 2012, he's in the leadership, he's gaining national prominence with the New START treaty fight and he's unlikely to face a strong Tea Party challenge. And even though there's talk of a strong challenge from Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), Arizona's electorate seems to be stubbornly Republican, despite the rest of the Southwest moving leftward. True, Kyl only won election with 53 percent of the vote in 2006, but unless Democrats land Giffords or an equally prominent challenger, expect Kyl's race to resemble Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) 2010 general election campaign.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) had a very high-profile Senate run in 2006, against then-Lt. Gov and now Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele. That race was close for most of the campaign, although Cardin ended up winning by 10 points. Judging by Sen. Barbara Mikulski's (D) and Gov. Martin O'Malley's (D) easy wins in 2010, it's pretty hard to win a statewide race in Maryland if you're a Republican. Cardin should have an easy time of it come 2012. But if Steele doesn't win a second term at the helm of the RNC and wants to remain in the news...well, we in the media can never resist a re-match.
And Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) might belong on this list as well -- but for media sensation Christine O'Donnell
(R). There's sure to be endless speculation about O'Donnell running
against Carper in 2012, even though Carper would be a heavy favorite to
This post was updated at 2:58 p.m. to reflect Leahy's vote total.