WASHINGTON (CNN) - The 111th Congress has just barely begun as Senate Republicans brace for more grueling elections in 2010 which threaten to further weaken the party's influence in Congress.
The latest setback for the party came Monday, when Ohio Sen. George Voinovich - the 72 year-old two-term GOP senator - announced he will not seek reelection in 2010. That leaves Republicans with a highly vulnerable seat in a perennial swing state that has drifted Democratic in the last two elections.
Voinovich's decision sent Ohio Republicans and Democrats scrambling ahead of what will likely be a competitive primary on both sides, and virtually guarantees the GOP will have to spend significantly more money defending a seat that otherwise would likely have been a safe bet.
"Republicans are starting the cycle on the defensive once again, it's a familiar but uncomfortable position," said Nathan Gonzalez of the Rothenberg Political Report.