Sen. Pete Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, is retiring after 36 years in Congress and at age 75, citing supposed health reasons. As you may recall, Domenici came under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee this year for trying to pressure David Iglesias, then the U.S. attorney in Albuquerque, to rush a corruption probe against Democrats in an effort to sway the 2006 elections. Iglesias says he believes he was dismissed from his job for resisting these demands by Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson. Domenici is th fifth Republican senator to decline to seek a new term, along with GOP Sens. John Warner, Chuck Hagel, Wayne Allard, and Larry Craig (well, if he ever decides to resign like he promised!).
Domenici has never been seriously challenged, but his retirement makes this a very competitive race giving Democrats yet another opportunity to expand their Senate majority. The two biggest Republican names for the race are Reps. Steve Pearce and Wilson, but either one of their seats if vacated becomes a prime DCCC target. Meanwhile, several potential Democratic candidates includ Rep. Tom Udall, Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish and former state Attorney General Patricia Madrid (who nearly beat Wilson last year). Of course, if Gov. Bill Richardson were to enter the race, he would surely win. However, he is running for president and has shown no interest.
In any case, this is more bad news for Republicans.