Former Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.) says he's "strongly considering" a bid for retiring Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsNational counterterrorism chief to retire at the end of year Former intel chief Hayden: Think twice on a Trump job offer Counterintelligence needs reboot for 21st century MORE's (R-Ind.) seat, giving Democrats a potentially strong candidate.

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"Since the news of Senator Coats’ announcement this morning, I have had family and friends call and urge me to consider running for the U.S. Senate," he said in a Tuesday evening statement released hours after Coats announced he won't run again.

"I have enjoyed my time in public service in the legislature and Congress, and have always been a fighter for Hoosiers. Now, more than ever, with wages stagnating and the tools we associate with upward mobility, like the cost of college, spiraling out of reach for too many families, I feel once again the passion to serve and to fight for our future," Hill continued. "Therefore, I will strongly consider a bid for the U.S. Senate, and will spend the next coming days in serious discussion with my wife and my daughters, and make a decision soon."

Hill has proven to be a tough campaigner in the past — he held a Republican-leaning southern Indiana seat for much of the 2000s, though all his wins were by tight margins. He lost the seat in a hard-fought race in 2004, won it back in 2006 and lost it in 2010.

His statement clearest sign yet that former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) is unlikely to jump in on the Democratic side.

Republicans are bracing for a free-for-all primary to replace Coats.