Bayh to retire in huge blow to Dems

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) will announce this afternoon that he will not seek reelection in 2010.

The news is a big loss for Democrats, opening up a very competitive seat in what’s shaping up to be a tough cycle for the party. 

{mosads}Bayh had over $13 million ready to wage a reelection campaign against former Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), and Democrats had already begun to portray Coats as a Washington lobbyist who abandoned Indiana.

But Bayh will deny that his decision is due to fears of losing his seat.

“My decision was not motivated by political concern,” Bayh will say, according to prepared remarks of his announcement. “Even in the current challenging environment, I am confident in my prospects for reelection.

“But running for the sake of winning an election, just to remain in public office, is not good enough,” he continues. “And it has never been what motivates me. At this time I simply believe I can best contribute to society in another way: creating jobs by helping grow a business, helping guide an institution of higher learning or helping run a worthy charitable endeavor.”

Bayh also lamented excessive partisanship in the Senate, citing the defeat of a bipartisan commission to deal with the nation’s debt and the collapse of negotiations over a jobs bill.

“All of this and much more has led me to believe that there are better ways to serve my fellow citizens, my beloved state and our nation than continued service in Congress,” he said.

Bayh’s announcement today leaves Indiana Democrats in a tough position. The deadline for a candidate to turn in signatures and qualify for the ballot is tomorrow. Assuming no Democrat meets that deadline, the state party will have the responsibility of choosing a replacement.

Reps. Baron Hill (D-Ind.) and Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) are possible candidates, though if either were to run it would open up a competitive House seat.

Bayh was set to hold a 2 p.m. news conference in Indianapolis.

A popular former governor, Bayh was first elected to the Senate in 1998.

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