Ray LaHood -- a moderate Republican from Peoria, Illinois, becomes the first Republican Representative in a swing seat to announce that he won't seek re-election in 2008. The Politico regards the seat as GOP-leaning, but winnable for Democrats:
Democrats have said the Peoria-based seat would be a target for them assuming LaHood retired -- particularly if Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is their presidential nominee. The district gave President Bush 58 percent of the vote in 2004. A Democrat hasn't represented the Peoria area since 1917.
State senator John Sullivan would be a likely Democratic candidate, and he has already spoken with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Republicans also have a number of potential candidates in the wings. Tazewell County Attorney Stu Umholtz, who ran for attorney general last year, and 25-year-old state Rep. Aaron Schock -- a protege of LaHood's -- are two of the better-known GOP prospects within the district.
Jonathan Singer over at MyDD (a liberal site) opined a little while back that a LaHood retirement could make this a costly seat to retain for the GOP. Depending on who the nominees are and who is at the top of the ticket, that could be right -- we won't really know for a while.
But more broadly, LaHood's name is the first on a list, the ultimate length of which may determine whether the Republicans have a chance of winning back the House in 2008. That's the list of GOP retirements in swing seats. If that winds up being a short list, the chances could be good. If it grows into double digits, it winds up being a great challenge for the GOP to overcome -- barring long Presidential coattails in their favor.