The fortunes of Senate Republicans may be getting caught in a vicious cycle. The GOP's poor prospects for regaining control of the chamber anytime soon are leading some senior members to think hard about retirement next year. And with more incumbents deciding to step down, chances rise that the party's strength will slip below its already paltry 43 seats.
Right now, GOP strategists are most worried by Minority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas, who is mulling retirement after 24 years in the Senate. Dole, 68, might face a stiff challenge from Democratic Representative Dan Glickman. The popular Glickman has hired campaign consultant James Carville, who is credited with engineering Democrat Harris Wofford's upset over Richard Thornburgh in this fall's special Senate election in Pennsylvania.
Another senior GOP senator, Warren Rudman of New Hampshire, has also been talking about quitting. Republicans would have a very good chance of holding that seat if White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu runs, as is likely. But the GOP may have trouble hanging on to seats being vacated by Jake Garn in Utah and Steve Symms in Idaho. And Senator Bob Packwood of Oregon is regarded as highly vulnerable next year.