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Published: Friday, 1/9/2009

Voinovich hints at retiring from U.S. Senate


COLUMBUS, Ohio U.S. Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio is leaving open the possibility of not running for re-election in 2010.

Voinovich, 72, is thinking about the challenging economic situation in Ohio, the direction of the country, and the best interests of his family, said spokesman Chris Paulitz.

The senator would let the people of Ohio know quickly if he decides not to seek a third term, Paulitz said.

The Columbus Dispatch, citing sources, reported Friday that Voinovich had shuffled his fundraising team and told his staff he might not run again.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett told the newspaper he had lunch with Voinovich in Cleveland on Dec. 23 and "the whole discussion was about him running in 2010 and how much money he had raised this year."

"He's running," Bennett said. "I cannot imagine a scenario that he wouldn't run."

Voinovich, a former two-term governor of Ohio who was elected to the Senate in 1998, has previously insisted he would seek re-election.

A Quinnipiac University poll from late last year found that 44 percent of Ohio voters said he deserves to be re-elected. The same poll gave him an approval rating of 51 percent.

Should Voinovich choose not to run, a possible Republican contender for the seat would be former U.S. Rep. Rob Portman. Possible Democratic candidates include Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and Attorney General Richard Cordray.

Two GOP Senate seats will already be up for grabs in 2010. Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida and Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri have said they both won't seek re-election.

Democrats control 59 seats in the 100-member body after the Nov. 4 election.

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