ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe (@jaffematt) reports:
Sen. Herb Kohl, D-WI, will announce today that he is retiring, Democratic party officials tell ABC News.
Kohl will become the sixth Senate Democrat to decide not to run for re-election in 2012, a group that includes Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Daniel Akaka of Hawaii and Jim Webb of Virginia. Read more on senate retirements.
Republicans need a net gain of four seats to wrest control of the Senate from Democrats in 2012. But the GOP has one distinct advantage – they only have to defend 10 Senate seats compared to 23 for Democrats.
Kohl’s decision to retire presents a huge opportunity for Republicans in Wisconsin, where voters unseated incumbent Democrat Sen. Russ Feingold last year. One name expected to be floated as a possible GOP contender for the Senate seat is Rep. Paul Ryan, but it remains to be seen if he would decide to leave his post as head of the House Budget Committee.