U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka announced today that he will not run for re-election in 2012.
Akaka, 86, has served in the Senate since 1990. He previously served a little more than 13 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"After months of thinking about my political future, I am announcing today that I have decided not to run for re-election in 2012," Akaka said in a statement. "As many of you can imagine, it was a very difficult decision for me. However, I feel that the end of this Congress is the right time for me to step aside. It has been a great honor and privilege to serve the people of Hawaii. In 2006, the people of Hawaii gave me an opportunity to continue my service in the United States Senate and I fully intend to serve the last two years of my term in office."
The good news: Lingle was a fairly popular chief executive, will be decently funded, and has excellent name recognition. Also, open seats are almost always in play, and this retirement will force Democrats to play defense -- and spend money -- in a state they were hoping to have in the bag.
The bad news: You know who will be on the ballot in 2012, and his approval rating in his home state is other-worldly at 66 percent. Expect significant coattails for the Democratic nominee. Also, an effective Hawaiian Republican Party is basically non-existent.