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Retirements Shuffle 2012 Senate Landscape

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Though Democratic retirements will have the biggest impact on the Senate playing field, the first Senator to announce she won’t run for re-election was Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas). Three Republicans have already kicked off Senate campaigns: former Secretary of State Roger Williams and Railroad Commissioners Michael Williams and Elizabeth Ames Jones. Others, such as Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, are reportedly looking at the race.

The top Republican on retirement watch is Sen. John Ensign. The second-term lawmaker has said he intends to run for re-election, but insiders and experts in Nevada believe that given his ethics troubles he would have a difficult time in a GOP primary against Rep. Dean Heller, who is considering making the jump.

Ensign told reporters in Nevada last week that he knows his race would be “very, very difficult” and said he plans voter outreach “to try to earn their trust back.”

Steve Peoples and Kyle Trygstad contributed to this report.

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