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Davis May Opt for ’08 Retirement

Veteran Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who has been seen as a leading candidate to replace retiring Sen. John Warner (R) in 2008, may now be just a day away from announcing his own retirement from Congress.

Published reports Monday night indicated that Davis is rethinking his long-awaited Senate bid, and Congressional sources said Tuesday that a run for re-election also may be off the table for the seven-term Congressman.

A spokesman for Davis said Tuesday that the Congressman had yet to make any decision on a Senate bid that just weeks ago was considered to be a foregone conclusion.

“All that’s out there right now is speculation,” spokesman Brian McNicoll wrote in an e-mail. “Tom will make a decision and announcement when he’s ready, and that could be as early as Thursday” — when the Congressman is scheduled to appear at a breakfast for reporters hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.

Davis’ Senate chances, which already were considered to be tough against the likely Democratic nominee, popular former Gov. Mark Warner, were dealt a setback earlier this month when state Republicans decided to hold a nominating convention rather than a primary to determine their candidate for the seat. As a moderate on social issues, Davis was expected to have an uphill fight at the GOP convention, which is dominated by more-conservative party faithful.

Now some knowledgeable sources on Capitol Hill are saying that if he’s not moving up then Davis likely will be moving out, regardless of the fact that he would be a strong favorite for an eighth term in 2008.

Davis admitted earlier this year that he considered retiring before the 2006 election. He said he decided to run again in part because he believed the poor political climate in the previous cycle would have enabled Democrats to pick up his Northern Virginia seat.

If Davis were to leave when his term is up in 2008, his suburban Washington, D.C., seat again would be in danger of flipping to the Democrats. But with Republicans likely to remain in the minority in the House and another Senate race in Virginia still five years off, it is unclear whether Davis is still motivated to hold the line for the GOP in the 11th district — especially when he could be making large sums of money across town on K Street.

In 2006, Davis acknowledged that he passed up an offer to head the National Federation of Independent Business in 2005. That job would have reportedly given him a million-dollar-plus salary.

But as one Republican source pointed out Tuesday, if Davis did have any ambitions of eventually challenging Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) in 2012, then “his going and working for NFIB or any lobbying shop would probably hurt any chance he would have of a future in statewide office” since he would be labeled as another Washington lobbyist.

In addition, Davis’ wife, state Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis (R), is in the middle of a tough re-election battle for her Fairfax County seat. If she loses and Davis decides not to run for another Congressional term in 2008, the family’s political influence in Virginia would be greatly diminished.

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