Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) has announced he won't run for the Senate, eliminating the largest hurdle for Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) to be the Democratic nominee to replace retiring Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.). This will allow Baldwin to save her resources for what could be a tough general-election fight in the Democratic-leaning state.

"Now is not my time to run for the U.S. Senate," Kind said in a statement Thursday. "The issues are just too pressing right now. Furthermore, at this time a divisive primary contest will not serve the interests of the state or the real needs of families. It will not create one job, help one family pay for college, cut one dollar from our state or federal deficit, protect one senior citizen’s Social Security and Medicare, or help one of the thousands of veterans in Wisconsin who served our country. Most certainly it will not reduce the hyper partisanship that is needlessly tearing apart our state and country."

Kind survived a tough race in 2010 in a swing district along the Mississippi River, but his district became safer in redistricting and he is unlikely to face another serious challenge in future years — making the prospect of giving up a safely Democratic seat to run for the Senate somewhat less enticing for Kind.

Baldwin is a liberal congresswoman from Madison who has a fervent following among the state's liberal base and would be the first openly gay senator. She would likely have started a primary with an advantage over Kind, who is known as more of a centrist.

Former Rep. Steve Kagen (D-Wis.) from northeastern Wisconsin is still seriously considering a run. But Kind has much more political experience in the state and deeper connections with Wisconsin Democrats, and would have been a stronger opponent against Baldwin.

On the Republican side, former Rep. Mark Neumann (R-Wis.) is running, as is Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson is also expected to run for the seat.