According to a story in today’s Roll Call newspaper, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) says that U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel WILL run for re-election in 2008. (Despite Presidential Flirtation, Hagel Assures NRSC He’ll Seek Re-election – Roll Call – 1/23/07 – subscription required) This news comes counter to other information from insider sources over the past month. Highlights from the Roll Call story state:
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) has assured the National Republican Senatorial Committee that he intends to run for re-election next year – although that decision does not mean he has chosen to forgo a presidential bid, which he continues to seriously consider.
Sources familiar with Hagel’s thinking say the Senator has no desire to exit elective office in 2008, and they expect him to run for re-election to the Senate if his prospective bid for the Republican presidential nomination falls short. Because the presidential primary season is front-loaded with key January races, the Senator’s status in that contest probably would be determined by Nebraska’s Feb. 15 filing deadline for incumbents, leaving him sufficient time to transition to a Senate race.
“Sen. Hagel has told the NRSC that he plans to run for re-election,” said a Republican operative based in Washington, D.C. “But as with all Senators up for re-election, things can certainly change.”
Hagel’s Senate office declined on Monday to comment on his political future, other than to say the Senator would announce his plans in the next couple of weeks.
Similarly, it’s that desire to influence foreign policy and national security strategy that is likely to keep Hagel from retiring from the Senate outright or adopting a run-for-president-or-bust approach to his political future.
“I think Sen. Hagel believes the country is at an important crossroads from an international and security standpoint,” said Republican strategist Doug McAuliffe, who has worked as Hagel’s media consultant. “I find it hard to believe, with the nation facing such a critical policy debate about its future, that Chuck Hagel would be sitting on the sidelines two years from now.”
In national TV interviews this past weekend, Hagel did not completely rule out the possibility of running for president as an Independent, though most Republicans see that as highly unlikely.
The story goes on to say that Hagel would not simply run for President as a “fringe candidate”, along the lines of a Dennis Kucinich.
As indicated in our post yesterday, we at Leavenworth Street believe that the odds are long that Hagel will seek re-election. Keep in mind that if Hagel announced his decision to retire from politics, his status as a lame-duck Senator would diminish his relevance and the spotlight would dim. Instead if he announces a run for President, all his options would be open. But even with this rumor today, we still wonder if this is to keep AG Jon Bruning at bay while they give Mike Johanns the hard sell to run for Hagel’s seat.
While he can always have a change of heart, this news will send shock-waves through the Nebraska political community and to all those potential candidates for open offices.
**Update 1:45 pm, 1/23/07**
And just to muddy the water further, the LJS reports that Hagel spokesman Mike Buttry says that the Roll Call story is NOT true, in that Hagel has NOT decided what to do yet in 2008, and will decide within the next two weeks. (Hagel hasn’t made 2008 decision – LJS – 1/23/07.)