Republican hopes for capturing one more Senate seat were buoyed Tuesday with the announcement of long-time Democratic senator from North Dakota, Sen. Kent Conrad, that he won't run for re-election in 2012.
As NPR's Ken Rudin reported for the network's newscast:
Conrad, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said in a statement that it was more important that he quote "spend my time and energy" trying to focus on solving the nation's budget woes than be distracted by another campaign.
His decision follows that of his fellow North Dakota Democrat, Byron Dorgan, who decided not to seek another term last year and watched his seat go to Republican Governor John Hoeven.
In addition, the state's lone House seat was also won by the GOP. One other senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican, has announced her retirement for 2012. With 23 Democratic and just 10 Republican seats up next year, the GOP is optimistic about gaining control of the Senate.
Ken plans on providing more analysis on what this all means later.
Chris Cilizza, over at the Washington Post's The Fix blog noted that Conrad decided to stay on the budget committee instead of taking a post on the agriculture panel that is so important to his state. That move may have increased his vulnerability, Cilizza writes.
It's also possible that Conrad decided to stay with the budget committee because he was either leaning against running again or had already made his decision.