Idaho Sen. Larry Craig will announce his career plans Saturday after widespread calls from fellow Republicans to resign over a men’s room sex sting, his spokesman said Friday.
Republican officeholders and party leaders want Craig to give up his seat in the Senate as soon as possible. Their preference, according to several officials, is for a successor to be selected and ready to take the oath of office when the Senate returns from its summer vacation next week.
Republican Party officials said a statement had been drafted at GOP headquarters calling for Craig to resign. It was not issued, these officials said, in response to concerns that it might complicate quiet efforts under way to persuade Craig to give up his seat.
Republicans, worried about the scandal’s effect on next year’s election, suffered a further setback Friday when veteran Virginia Sen. John Warner announced he will retire rather than seek a sixth term. Democrats captured Virginia’s other Senate seat from the GOP in the 2006 election and have sought to line up former Gov. Mark Warner to run if the seat became open.
The contest for control of the next Senate was already tilted against Republicans, who must defend 22 of 34 seats on the ballot next year. With a GOP candidate other than Craig, Republicans would stand a much better chance of keeping his Idaho seat in 2008.
WJZ-TV, Baltimore’s CBS affiliate, reports it is expected that Craig indeed will step down from his Senate seat.
And yes, you read correctly: After 29 years in the Senate, Virginia’s John Warner says he will not seek a sixth term in office.
“The Virginia seat held by Warner creates an open, competitive race with a real opportunity for the Democrats,” said Mark J. Rozell, a professor at George Mason University’s School of Public Policy. “It is now more likely that former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner will run. It also creates another opportunity for the Democrats in that Rep. Tom Davis will likely relinquish his 11th District House seat to run for the GOP nomination. Davis could have competition for the nomination, with ex-governor Jim Gilmore getting int the race.”
As the ranking Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Warner has said his “foremost responsibilities” in recent years have been in strengthening the nation’s armed services and improving health care and the quality of life for soldiers and their families.
Warner became a key player in the debate over the Iraq war. In 2002, he wrote the resolution President George W. Bush sought in authorizing military force against Iraq, but by 2005 had begun distancing himself from Bush and U.S. involvement in Iraq, opposing the president’s recent “surge” strategy.”
After spending four days in Iraq in mid August, Warner recommended last week that Bush withdraw some U.S. troops from Iraq by Christmas and said he was discontented with the progress of the Iraqi government at achieving political reconciliation.
Some may recall that Warner was married to actor and AIDS activist Elizabeth Taylor at the time of his election to the Senate.
May as well add another departing Republican to the list: White House spokesperson Tony Snow, who has been battling colon cancer, will leave his post Sept. 14 to find a better-paying job. Snow, a former FOX News broadcaster, says his White House salary of $168,000 is not enough to support his family.
Bush’s press secretary had already announced plans to leave before January 2009, but previously had not indicated his departure date. His replacement is his deputy, Dana Perino, who also has a broadcasting background and who filled in behind the White House press room podium earlier this year when Snow was undergoing treatment.