POSTED: Monday, February 15, 2010 - 11:19am
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 3:26pm
Evan Bayh Won't Run Again
Sen. Evan Bayh, an Indiana Democrat who was on Barack Obama's list of vice presidential prospects in 2008, is ready to announce he won't seek another term, saying he's fed up with Congress.
"To put it in the words most Hoosiers can understand: I love working for the people of Indiana, I love helping our citizens make the most of their lives, but I do not love Congress," Bayh said in comments prepared for an announcement later Monday in Indianapolis.
His statement was obtained by The Associated Press from a Democratic official who declined to be named publicly.
Bayh's departure continues a recent exodus from Congress among both Democrats and Republicans, including veteran Democrats Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Patrick Kennedy of Mass. The announcements have sprung up in rapid-fire fashion amid polls showing a rising anti-incumbent fervor and voter anger over Washington partisanship, high unemployment, federal deficits and lucrative banking industry bonuses.
In his statement, Bayh seemed to attribute his decision to the bitter partisan divides that have dominated Congress in recent years, though he praised his colleagues as hard workers devoting to serving the public.
"My decision should not be interpreted for more than it is, a very difficult, deeply personal one," Bayh's statement said. "I am an executive at heart. I value my independence. I am not motivated by strident partisanship or ideology."
Bayh said he believed he would have been re-elected this November, despite "the current challenging environment." He said it was time for him to "contribute to society in another way," either by creating jobs with a business, leading a college or university, or running a charity.
His retirement from a Senate seat from Republican-leaning Indiana also adds to the struggle Democrats will face this fall to prevent an erosion of the 59 votes they have in the chamber.
"After all these years, my passion for service to my fellow citizens is undiminished, but my desire to do so by serving in Congress has waned," Bayh said in a statement he planned to read at the news conference.
The plans by the 54-year-old, two-term senator were confirmed by three Democratic officials who discussed his announcement on grounds of anonymity because it was still pending.
Bayh informed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., of his plans in a telephone conversation Monday morning, according to a one Democrat.
The party will have to scramble to find a replacement candidate for Bayh's seat. Friday is the filing deadline for the May primary, although the party would have until June 30 to select a replacement candidate.
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 Obama's succcessful run for the White House. He was believed to have been on Obama's short list. Obama settled on then-Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware.
Less than two weeks ago, former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats, a Republican, announced that he would try to reclaim his old seat from Bayh. The move by Coats came as the GOP was still celebrating Republican Scott Brown's January upset to take Edward Kennedy's former seat in Massachusetts.
Bayh is serving his second six-year term in the Senate, and is a centrist Democrat from a Republican-leaning state.
Bayh served two terms as Indiana's governor before winning the first of his two Senate terms in 1998. He had until recent weeks been regarded as a near certainty for re-election, having raised nearly $13 million for his campaign and facing little-known Republican opposition until national Republicans recruited Coats to enter the race.
Bayh's name was already well known when he first ran for political office in 1986, winning the race for Indiana secretary of state that year. His father, Birch, won the first of three terms in the U.S. Senate in 1962 and was an unabashed Great Society liberal.
The younger Bayh ran for governor in 1988 on a platform of fiscal responsibility, reducing what he considered to be a bloated government bureaucracy and opposing tax increases.
Bayh served two terms as Indiana's governor before winning the first of his two Senate terms in 1998.