Breaking: Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh to Retire

This certainly is a big surprise but Indiana Senator Evan Bayh has announced that he is going to retire. From Fox News:

Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh will not seek re-election this November, an unexpected decision that hands Republicans an opportunity for a pick-up in a year when Democrats are already defending several open Senate seats.

The two-term senator is known as a moderate Democrat. Former GOP Sen. Dan Coats had been planning to challenge Bayh in November — but a senior Democratic source told Fox News that recent polling showed Bayh way ahead of Coats, and that the retirement must have been a personal decision.

Bayh’s staff said the latest polling showed Bayh ahead of Coats by 20 points.

It’s a cliche but the Democrats really are dropping like flies.

Hat tip: Gateway Pundit.

Update: The Indy Star has more:

In prepared remarks, Bayh, 54, cited excessive partisanship that makes progress on public policy difficult to achieve as the motivation for his decision.

“After all these years, my passion for service to my fellow citizens is undiminished, but my desire to do so in Congress has waned,” he said.

“My decision was not motivated by political concern,” he added. “Even in the current challenging environment, I am confident in my prospects for re-election.”

Bayh had never lost an election, from his first win in 1986 as secretary of state, his wins for governor in 1988 and 1992 and his election to the U.S. Senate in 1998 and 2004.

“But running for the sake of winning an election, just to remain in public office, is not good enough,” Bayh said. “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.”

Update II: Senator’s Bayh’s timing does not bode well for Democrats. He made his announcement today but, as Karen Tumulty notes, the deadline for filing to run in November is Friday, which leaves Democrats very little time to find a replacement candidate.

Update III: Jim Geraghty at the Campaign Spot notes that there are two different dates for filing. Swing State Project has it listed as tomorrow, while the Indiana Secretary of State has it listed as Friday. Either way, Jim notes that the Democrats might be able to appoint a candidate if there is a vacancy on the ballot.

Update IV: It seems Mike Pence was reconsidering running against Evan Bayh in November but Bayh’s announcement to retire cemented Pence’s decision to stay in the House.

Update V: National Journal has the details on the Indiana filing process.

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