2012 Senate: Talent, Ryan Running?

Posted: Nov 19, 2010 4:29 PM
I interviewed former US Senator Jim Talent (R-MO) for my weekend radio show last night, and I asked him if he might be plotting to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill, who narrowly defeated him in 2006.  Here's a portion of the exchange, which will air on Sunday:

GB: Senator, coming up in 2012, the map is very bleak for Democrats.  They’re going to be defending 13 more Senate seats than the Republicans will be.  One of them is in your state; Claire McCaskill.  [She] barely beat you in 2006, in a very bad Republican year, she was swept to victory in that Democratic tide.  She has become—I think—a very divisive and unpopular character in your state.  Are you seriously, possibly, considering challenging her to win back that seat?


JT: Yeah, I’m looking at it.  I began that process after the [2010] election.  I still enjoy getting out and campaigning, I’ve done it for a lot of people, and I still want to have an impact on the country’s affairs.  I just have to figure out what’s the best way to do that?  And also, how do I balance that with the other things I’m doing professionally and with my family.  And I’ll do that on a pretty quick basis.

In political speak, that sounds a lot like, "I'm running."  Roll Call looks at the 2012 Senate battle in Wisconsin, and tosses out an intriguing possibility:

[Incumbent Democrat Herb] Kohl may take Republican Ron Johnson’s punishing win over fellow Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold as a warning. Kohl, 75, has said he’ll make a decision about whether to run for re-election in the next few months. He had just $26,000 in the bank as of Sept. 30, a sign he might be looking toward retirement after four terms.

A number of Republicans may consider running, whether Kohl decides to retire or not. Though Republican Rep. Paul Ryan has long been suspected of having Senate ambitions, he may be more inclined to stay in the House now that he stands to chair the Budget Committee. However, Ryan is term-limited by House GOP rules and would need to seek a waiver to keep the budget gavel beyond 2012. If he doesn’t run, state Rep. Mike Huebsch has been mentioned, as have previous Senate candidates, including 2006 nominee Tim Michels.

Rep. Ron Kind, who barely won his re-election bid in 2010, has been mentioned as a Democrat who might run if Kohl decides to retire.

The Totalitarian American Left
David Limbaugh

If Paul Ryan decides to make the leap -- and Roll Call's piece succinctly explains why he might not -- how spectacular would a Ryan/Johnson Wisconsin Senate duo be?  I've also heard rumblings of a potential "Draft Feingold" movement if Kohl chooses to retire.