From NBC's Mark Murray
The news was expected, but it was a wild ride to get there -- vulnerable Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning
(R) won't run for re-election next year, giving Republicans a better chance at holding on to his seat.
The reason he cites for his exit is the same one that Roland Burris did a few weeks ago: a lack of financial resources.
"[R]unning for office is not just about the issues," he said in a statement. "To win a general election, a candidate has to be able to raise millions of dollars to get the message out to voters. Over the past year, some of the leaders of the Republican Party in the Senate have done everything in their power to dry up my fundraising. The simple fact is that I have not raised the funds necessary to run an effective campaign for the U.S. Senate. For this reason, I will not be a candidate for re-election in 2010."
With Bunning's exit, the front-runner for the GOP nomination is Secretary of State Trey Grayson. The top Democrats are state Attorney General Jack Conway and former 2004 Democratic Senate nominee Dan Mongiardo.