The News Observer, 11/28/7

Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott’s resignation announcement Monday was the latest in a wave of retirements to hit congressional Republicans, making an already difficult 2008 electoral landscape even more complicated for the minority party.

Party officials say the retirements — 17 members of the House and six senators — are the result of individual decisions and don’t indicate a broader negative sentiment within the party. “I don’t hear a drumbeat that ‘we’re not effective, and I don’t like it here anymore,’ ” said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole.

But with so many lawmakers — including a large number from competitive states and districts — heading for the exits, it’s hard not to point to the GOP’s newfound minority status in Washington, the turnover in party leadership and the perilous political environment heading into 2008 to explain the exodus.