Bayh Retiring From Senate; Paves Way For Key GOP Pickup In November

From The Associated Press, one of the Democrats’ stronger Senators is giving up the ghost rather than running for re-election this fall:

Sen. Evan Bayh, a prominent Democrat who has been mentioned prominently in connection with White House sweepstakes in recent years, is ready to announce he will not seek re-election, a Democratic official said Monday.
Bayh’s departure continues a recent exodus from Congress among both Democrats and Republicans, including veteran Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, amid polls showing a rising anti-incumbent fervor in an electorate angry over high unemployment, mounting federal deficits and lucrative banking industry bonuses.

The official, who said the 54-year-old Bayh was ready to announce his plans at an Indianapolis news conference later Monday, divulged the senator’s decision only on grounds of anonymity because the announcement was still pending.

Bayh’s name was among a handful of well-known Democrats prominently mentioned as possible vice presidential candidates in both Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 run for the presidency and President Barack Obama’s campaign last year. He was believed to have been on Obama’s final list. Obama settled on then-Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware.

Bayh had a gigantic $13 million war chest set for a re-election run this fall, so his retirement makes a huge dent in the Democrats’ chances of holding that seat. The Republican National Committee recruited popular former senator Dan Coats to make a run at the seat this fall after House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence decided not to run. Bayh’s political fortunes have been sagging along with those of the Democrats in Washington over the past year; despite the war chest he’s reasoned that he’s not going to win.

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