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Posted at 7:00 PM ET, 02/10/2011

McDonnell: Webb's departure is GOP's gain

By Anita Kumar
Anita Kumar

U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D), who announced Wednesday that he would not run for re-election, called Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to break the news.

"He just told me, something that I've realized too, there's a point in everyone's life that's been in politics for awhile when you know that it's time,'' McDonnell told reporters at a news conference Thursday afternoon. "For him, he knows that it's time to do something else, to return to the private sector, to maybe write and do some other things. I appreciated that. He said 'I'm going to be sprinting across the finish line' -- meaning he's going to work hard for Virginia for the remainder of his term."

McDonnell said he and Webb have worked together on a number of issues -- despite their different party affiliations -- including prison re-entry and the closure of the Joint Forces Command in Hampton Roads.

"We have a good working relationship,'' McDonnell said. "My views are when the campaigns are over you have to govern especially with the senators because they are statewide officeholders like I am. They are concerned about the breadth of what happens in Virginia. I have personal respect for Jim Webb -- as a military man, an author and as a senator. It's not easy being a United States senator because of the incredible competing demands you've got."

But McDonnell said Webb's retirement will make it easier for Republicans to pick up Virginia's second U.S. Senate seat.

"So when you're not running against an incumbent, I think it generally gives you a better shot,'' he said. "I certainly think we [have] a 53-47 split right now in Virginia that we've shown in 2009 and 2010. It's not only a competive state, but it's back to being a right of center state. I think it was already going to be a target for Republicans supporters and donors...I think it probably intensifies now with an open seat."

Webb told Sen. Mark Warner (D) while the two were attending the Senate Democratic caucus's retreat at the Boar's Head Inn in Charlottesville. He tried to reach Tim Kaine, former Virginia governor and chairman of Democratic National Committee, but he was not immediately able to because Kaine was on a plane to Wisconsin for a DNC event. Webb's chief of staff, Paul Reagan, made calls to other Virginia Democrats to let them know about Webb's decision.

By Anita Kumar  | February 10, 2011; 7:00 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Election 2012, James Webb, Robert F. McDonnell, U.S. Senate  
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Next: Webb: Decision to retire came after talking with family

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