In an interview with the Hendersonville Times-News, Heath Shuler doesn't rule out a run for the Senate in 2010.
I think Shuler is the second strongest possible candidate for the Democrats behind Roy Cooper.
The immediate concern is whether a Shuler run would cost the Democrats a Congressional seat that they reclaimed for the first time in 16 years just one election ago, but I think there is a strong bench in that district.
John Snow represents a very Republican eight county state Senate district contained completely within the 11th District and won every single one of the counties in his reelection bid this year even as Barack Obama won just one of them.
Joe Sam Queen is the Senator for a similarly Republican district in the Mountains. He won four out of six counties this year in his reelection bid: the two counties he lost are in the 10th District while the ones he won are all within the 11th.
If Shuler ran the Democrats' recruitment should start with those guys since it's imperative the Democrats nominate someone who's shown an ability to win outside Buncombe County.
As for the Republicans, well, the best they could dredge up this year was a guy who could pull only 36% of the vote. I like the Democrats' chances for keeping this seat Shuler or no Shuler barring a major shift in the national political climate.