Trent Lott will announce today that he is retiring from the Senate at the end of next month. He is the sixth Senate Republican to announce that he will not seek re-election next year.
Lott has been a reasonably conservative politician, but he is an old-style Republican who has never been comfortable with the transparency that today’s Republicans expect from their leaders. Lott tended to be more loyal to his fellow Senators, Republicans and Democrats alike, than to principle. In some respects, one could think of him as a Republican Tom Daschle, only less partisan.
I assume Lott’s seat will stay in Republican hands, and whoever replaces Lott–Haley Barbour, perhaps?–will likely be a stronger and more consistent conservative.
PAUL adds: Lott reportedly was not enthusiastic about running in 2006. By deciding to seek re-election that year, he ensured that the Republicans would hold the seat in a tough year. He also won the opportunity for a “redemption” of sorts. Ousted as Senate Majority Leader for praising Strom Thurmond’s 1948 run for the presidency as a “states rights” candidate, Lott’s colleagues returned him to a leadership position — Minority whip — this session.
The leadership team of McConnell and Lott appears to have been effective, at least with repect to maneuvering for and counting votes. McConnell, of course, deserves the bulk of the credit. Lott’s resignation sets up what could be an interesting contest for the Minority whip post.
McConnell himself is up for re-election in 2008. Although the clear favorite, he’s considered somewhat vulnerable. The new Minority whip would probably be the early favorite to replace McConnell, should he be upset in Kentucky.
UPDATE (by Paul): The talk so far is that John Kyl is the frontrunner to succeed Lott. Lamar Alexander, who ran against Lott for the job earlier this year, is also being mentioned.
If Kyl succeeds Lott, that would open up his position as chair of the Republican Conference. The names we’re hearing in connection with that post include Alexander, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, John Cornyn, and Jim DeMint.
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