VOINOVICH SLAMS ‘SOUTHERNERS’ FOR GOP DECLINE…. Sen. George Voinovich (R) of Ohio is retiring next year, and apparently feels a little more comfortable speaking his mind, now that he doesn’t have to worry about impressing voters or donors.

Yesterday, Voinovich shared some thoughts on why the Republican Party has fallen on hard times, and specifically pointed the finger at right-wing senators like Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

“We got too many Jim DeMints and Tom Coburns,” Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) told the Columbus Dispatch. “It’s the southerners.”

Voinovich, a native Clevelander who retires after the 2010 election, continued after the southern elements of the GOP.

“They get on TV and go ‘errrr, errrrr,’” he said. “People hear them and say, ‘These people, they’re southerners. The party’s being taken over by southerners. What they hell they got to do with Ohio?’”

I don’t imagine these remarks are going to go over especially well in conservative circles, especially south of the Mason-Dixon line. But the comments, while seemingly intemperate, are hardly scandalous.

Indeed, in November, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said the GOP is struggling to become “a majority governing party” because its base is limited geographically. David Broder wrote in December, “The Southern domination of the congressional Republican Party has become more complete with each and every election.”

Voinovich will no doubt get slammed for his remarks, but it’s not his fault the party’s power base has become focused on one conservative region.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.