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McCain's Next Step: Re-Election in 2010

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., talks on the phone outside a Republican Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

John McCain took a major step toward clarifying his future role in politics earlier this week by telling a group of senior advisers that he plans to seek re-election to a fifth Senate term in 2010.

The news of McCain's decision was first reported by Fix alma mater Roll Call (subscription required). Roll Call -- continuing its hot streak -- also broke the news that former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle would head the Department of Health and Human Services for President-elect Barack Obama.

McCain's intention to run again -- and the speed with which the news got out -- suggests that he believes there remains a role for him on the national political scene for the first four years (or more) of President-elect Barack Obama's administration. (We speculated about McCain's future earlier this week in this space.)

Democrats remain skeptical that McCain's intention to run means that he will ultimately be a candidate for re-election. They see the resumption of his leadership PAC as simply McCain keeping his options open so that if he does ultimately decide to run, he will be strongly positioned to do so.

Any conversation about McCain and 2010 also has to include Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D), an extremely popular figure in the state who is term limited out of her office after two terms in 2010.

Napolitano has openly discussed interest in the Senate race, but is also positioning herself for a post in the Obama administration that could preclude such a bid. Napolitano was widely seen among party insiders as the runner-up to Eric Holder for the Attorney General post and is still regarded as a potential choice to head the Homeland Security Department.

If Napolitano doesn't end up in the Obama Cabinet, expect speculation about a potential challenge to McCain to grow rapidly.

A poll conducted by Research 2000 for the liberal blog "Daily Kos" late last month showed Napolitano leading McCain, 53 percent to 45 percent, in a hypothetical 2010 matchup.

Fifty-eight percent of the sample had a favorable opinion of McCain while 41 percent had an unfavorable opinion; Napolitano's ratings were better, with a 69 percent favorable/21 percent unfavorable score.

Those familiar with Napolitano's thinking believe that a challenge to McCain is a real possibility, and that the rapid growth in the state -- largely via the influx of political independents and political moderates -- could accrue to her benefit in a clash of political titans.

If a McCain-Napolitano race comes to pass, it would almost certainly be a marquee -- if not the marquee race -- of the 2010 Senate elections.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 19, 2008; 2:32 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Next: Political Take: Stevens Loses, Lieberman Wins, Clinton at State?


I can't wait for the 2010 elections. It will be interesting to see how many candidates tailor their campaigns after the model set by Obama - have a predetermined message and stand by that message throughout the campaign; use the internet and; recruit a large army of grassroot supporters (especially young voters).

If young voters stay energized through the next election cycle the old dinosaurs like McCain, Byrd, Inouye and Akaka will be voted out of office. The election of a young president will inspire a new generation of politicians to step forward.

Posted by: Nevadaandy | November 20, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

So Napolitano isn't likely to challenge McCain if she takes HS. If I were Kyl, though, I might be more than a little nervous about 2012.

Posted by: FlownOver | November 20, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse


Can you please explain then why Hussein is hiring all the insiders to enact this change you are seeking?

Talk about hypocritical and stupid. Is he even aware of what Cater did back in the day? So far he is following in his exact shadow and you see how well that worked out for him in the 70's

You must be new to the political scene so Ill forgive your innocence.

Posted by: indep2 | November 20, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

indep2 and gaystaggo

John McCain does need to make way for a Junior Senator, and a Conservative One too Boot. The Only Party currently being harmed by McCain is the Republican Party. McCain should be a Democrats Dream, and he will only further harm the GOP. The Only preference a Liberal Democrat should have over McCain is a Liberal Extremist like Obama. Republicans need to promote Conservatives in the Ranks, not Dempublicans, or Libpublicans. To all you Liberal Extremists - for your info, George Bush is not a Conservative.

The Last Great President we had was Ronald Wilson Reagan.

The Lifers from the Democrat and Republican parties need to step aside, and or be voted out. Such a long time in Washington distorts, and corrupts. We need term limits for Senators and Congressman of any Party.

Posted by: ignoranceisbliss | November 20, 2008 8:07 AM | Report abuse

"Looks like Obama might be taking Napolinto out of the picture by bumping her up to attorney general. A reconcilatory gesture towards McCain perhaps?"

I think its Homeland Security. AG has already been picked.

Posted by: DDAWD | November 20, 2008 4:18 AM | Report abuse

Looks like Obama might be taking Napolinto out of the picture by bumping her up to attorney general. A reconcilatory gesture towards McCain perhaps?

Posted by: theamazingjex | November 20, 2008 1:27 AM | Report abuse

Even if the polls stay bad for McCain against Napolitano, I can't see him running from a fight.

Posted by: SeanC1 | November 19, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Some, who hate McCain, may lust at a 2010 defeat, hoping to see a crushed man. If McCain proves to be a real thorn in Obama's side, then I'd like to see him lose to a person who would be a freshman senator. But, I have no desire to watch McCain implode.

Posted by: gaystaggo | November 19, 2008 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: indep2 | November 19, 2008 7:43 PM | Report abuse

This guy has got to be kidding. I cannot imagine how Obama can keep a straight face when Mc Bush says he will try again in 2010

As far as giving billions to Auto industry, thet do not deserve a red cent. It is time this country stopped saving thses thugs and creating a false economy . The Big Three claim they are in a very delicate position if they do not get the tax payers money, and what about the rest of the American people who are in a delicate position, or dont they exist for the Fat Cats?

Posted by: LOONYBIN2000 | November 19, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Agree that if Napolitano runs for Senate it should be against the right-wing Kyl in 2012. McCain is the type of Republican who you can actually work with, who's concerned more about problem-solving and solutions than about ideological fights and political "gotcha" games.

Perhaps Napolitano can be considered for an Administration position after her term expires, if she's not named to Homeland Security now. The best political path for her here actually might be an Administration job for Obama's first term, then resign in 2012 and run for Kyl's Arizona Senate seat.

I don't really think she was ever that much of a contender for A.G. I think Obama always wanted to make the historic appointment of an African-American to that post. Nominating an African-American to head the Justice Department is not only symbolic and historically significant, it is also politically significant in terms of policy. It signals where Obama's focus is in terms of Justice issues. Eric Holder is extremely well-qualified for the post and brings a depth and breadth of experience that most other recent Attorney Generals have lacked. It's about time we finally have an African-American Attorney General and when there is a candidate of excellence like Holder available for the position, it would have been exceptionally careless for any Democratic President, a President from the party of Civil Rights, Voting Rights, and political diversity to have bypassed or overlooked that candidate. The Attorney General selection is clearly a case of Obama getting it right.

Posted by: OHIOCITIZEN | November 19, 2008 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Janet Napolitano is a very good governor and would make for a strong candidate. It would be much more gratifying, though, if she ran against Jon Kyl. Even after a messy election I still like John McCain and don't really want to see him out of political office. The people who are still bashing him now either hate all republicans or they ARE republicans.

Personally I'd like to see him in the administration, would send a great message and he would have a fun and productive 8 years of it. But if he doesn't do that, why would Napolitano run against a republican that the president could actually work with when she could run against Jon Kyl and take down that waste of taxpayer money instead?

Just my 2-cents.

Posted by: grimmix | November 19, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

"The only way McCain can win is if he and the GOP took the time and money to educate voters on the issues.

The media will not allow that..... as has been proven with this past election."

Haha, has an interview conducted with the guy of the aforementioned website.

The guy is pretty deranged.

Posted by: DDAWD | November 19, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Followed by mummification in 2016.

(I really do like you, John.)

Posted by: wgmadden | November 19, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

By 2010 we may well
see the democrats
revealed as the
do nothing party
they are,
Hence, the 2006
and 1994 senario,
once people realize
obama is in over his
head, and the economic
blood letting has us all
thinking back to the days
of 7% Mortgages,
The pelosi's and reids'
and franks and obamas
will be held up to the light,
and seen for what they are,
professional complainers...
Oh, and McCain should
retire, Rich is not ageless...

Posted by: USA3 | November 19, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

The only way McCain can win is if he and the GOP took the time and money to educate voters on the issues.

The media will not allow that..... as has been proven with this past election.

Posted by: indep2 | November 19, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Arizona has been trending blue and there it was realistic to think it might have gone fpr Obama if McCain had not been the nominee.

I know I would have voted for McCain before this campaign but after he ran that year long nasty there is no way he would get my vote today.

Posted by: MarcMyWords | November 19, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Chris said it right. He took a step in clarifying his future political intentions. I think there's a chance he may yet decide against a run. That poll wasn't the first one that had Napolitano ahead in a potential matchup. And, that was phrased in a way that said if the election were held today. If that poll is to be believed it's not a good sign for him that he's already down. In two years Arizona will be more favorable to Democrats not just because of an influx of political independents and moderates, but perhaps bigger is the increasingly large voting bloc that Latino voters comprise in the region and the state.
With all of that said, if McCain does decide to run, the only way we win this race most likely now is if Napolitano runs.

Posted by: jdunph1 | November 19, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

There's no way on the planet that McCain will get re-nominated by the GOP in 2012. Like Bob Dole, he's history. McCain will stay a Senator and he'll do what he's always done, buck his party and kiss a** with the Democrats hoping a few bones will fall down to him. He'll also now become the Democratic Party--controlled MSM's favorite Republican ONCE AGAIN (seeing as he lost to their candidate Obama), just like he was before he announced that he'll run for the GOP ticket.

Posted by: armpeg | November 19, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I respect John McCain and I for one hope that Napolitano is given a post in Obama's government so that Mr McCain can continue doing a fine job as a Senator. I do not believe that the behavior of his presidental campaign is a an indicator of the the man. He knew he could not win and bowed to pressure from the worst of the mud slingers. He would have been a great president, but even so Obama also will be a great president and the USA is looking for something different. More moderate Republicans like John McCain are needed to lead the Republican party out of the hole dug by right wing social conservative extremists. Mind you the Democrats should be careful of the lessons just learned by the Republicans. It was not too long ago that the Democrats were stuck in their own hole that they seem to only have gotten out of because of the implosion of the Republican party.

Posted by: ThatGuy1 | November 19, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

If McCain reverts to form & thumbs his nose at GOP leadership - leadership that is moving right, at least in the House - will he expose himself to attack from the right? How many of the surviving GOP congresspeople first arrived after challenging moderate Repubs for the seats they now hold?

Posted by: bsimon1 | November 19, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I don't see anyone beating McCain.

Posted by: DDAWD | November 19, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse


Napolitano would clean McCain's clock if the economy is still in the doldrums two years' hence. Would McCain risk being beaten twice in two years?

The betting here is that McCain won't run again, but will go into the private sector in a part-time defense-related position.

BUT WILL THE ELECTION EVEN MATTER? Not as long as government-supported extrajudicial "vigilante injustice" squads are "community/gang stalking" American citizens, making a mockery of the rule of law:

Posted by: scrivener50 | November 19, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if rove, schmidt, davis, wallace and the rest of the cast of circus clowns will be there to give ole' magoo lots of excellent advice?

When will magoo start slinging the mud at Janet?

Will he accuse her of being an unpatriotic terrorist? Or will he brand her a socialist, marxist or communist?

Oh boy, I can hardly wait.

Posted by: Heerman532 | November 19, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

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