Jim Webb, who squeaked out a victory for Senate in Virginia in 2006, will leave the Senate after one term, adding another to the many opportunities for Republicans in the Senate in 2012. Here is the statement he released:
Five years ago this week, on February 8, 2006, I announced my intention to run for the United States Senate. We had neither campaign funds nor a staff. We were challenged in a primary, and trailed the incumbent in the general election by more than 30 points in the polls.
Over the next nine months we focused relentlessly on the need to reorient our national security policy, to restore economic fairness and social justice, and to bring greater accountability in our government. I will always be grateful for the spirit and energy that was brought into this campaign by thousands of loyal and committed volunteers. Their enthusiasm and sheer numbers were truly the difference in that election.
It has been a great and continuing privilege to serve in the United States Senate. I am very proud of my talented and dedicated staff, which has worked tirelessly to resolve the issues on which I based my candidacy, and to protect the interests of all Virginians in this national forum. Among other contributions we have given our Post- 9/11 veterans the best GI Bill since World War Two; we have taken the lead in reforming our criminal justice system; we have led the way toward stronger relations in East and Southeast Asia; and we have been a strong voice in calling on China to act more responsibly in the world community. We will continue to work on these and other issues throughout the rest of my term.
However, after much thought and consideration I have decided to return to the private sector, where I have spent most of my professional life, and will not seek re-election in 2012.
Notwithstanding this decision, I have every intention of remaining involved in the issues that affect the well-being and the future of our country.
Webb was something of a reluctant Senator from the beginning, someone who had a career in the Navy and as a writer long before coming to politics. There were hints that he would not seek re-election for a while.
Nevertheless, he gave the rebuttal to the 2008 State of the Union address, made criminal justice reform a priority nationally for the first time in a while, and basically acted the way you would expect a Senator would if they were settling in for a long tenure, although there was always something a little awkward about it.
And then George Allen decided to challenge him for re-election. Perhaps Webb wanted to stay away from that fight. Perhaps he never really liked being a Senator to begin with. Whatever the reason, he walked.
Tim Kaine, the DNC chair, has been asked about running and has reportedly said no so far. Another candidate may be former member of Congress Tom Perriello, who served a fairly red district for one term before losing last November.
Kent Conrad and Kay Bailey Hutchison have also said they would not seek re-election. This becomes the second open seat in a red or purple state previously held by a Democrat.