A prominent Virginia Republican confirmed a bid for the Senate, a former Speaker of the House is opting for early retirement and a purple district New Jersey house seat is opening up. In Virginia, a battle of the ex-governors is shaping up. Mark Warner (D-VA) is expected to square off against Jim Gilmore (R-VA), who most recently abandoned a long-shot campaign for president. Warner is currently the odds-on favorite.
The former speaker, Dennis Hastert (R-IL) has announced he’ll be out of office before year’s end, opening the possibility of a special election in conjunction with the presidential primary being held in the state on Super Duper Tuesday, 2/5/08. Candidates already in the running for the seat which was expected to open up in time for the regular November election are expected to enter the fray for the warm-up contest. Hastert was re-elected by a 60-40 margin in 2006, but before then scored support levels in the 70%-75% range. In New Jersey, Mike Ferguson (R-NJ) becomes the latest exiting Republican. The candidate he defeated 53%-46%, Linda Stender (D-NJ) is already in the running again, but in this case the Republicans may have an especially strong replacement for Ferguson in Tom Kean Jr., who is minority leader in the state Senate and lost a spirited battle for the US Senate to Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in 2006.