It's been a year of notable Democratic retirements, but Rep. Vernon Ehlers, the nine-term Republican from Grand Rapids, Michigan, will call it quits at the end of 2010, Hotline OnCall's Tim Sahd and Reid Wilson report.

It's the 17th open seat Republicans will have to defend in 2010 (vs. 11 open seats for Democrats), and Sahd and Wilson note that it could be an opportunity for Democrats under the right circumstances, though the race was not generally seen among the nation's more competitive before news of Ehlers's retirement. John McCain defeated President Obama in Michigan's third district by a slim 49% to 49% in 2008, but the McCain camp pulled out of Michigan early. Ehlers won reelection with 61% of the vote in 2008.

The Cook Political Report rates the district as R+6 on its Partisan Voter Index--not the strongest of Republican strongholds, but certainly an edge or the incumbent party--and, with Ehlers in the race, rated it as solidly Republican. State Rep. Justin Amash (R) had announced a primary challenge to Ehlers, Sahd and Wilson note.