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Indiana's Evan Bayh to retire from Senate

The centrist Democrat unexpectedly announces that he will not run for a third term in a Republican-leaning state, opening up a seat that his party now is likely to lose.

February 15, 2010|By Janet Hook

Reporting from Washington — Adding to Democrats' political woes in the 2010 midterm elections, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh unexpectedly announced Monday that he would not run for a third term in a Republican-leaning state, opening up a seat that his party now is likely to lose.


FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled the last name of former Republican Sen. Dan Coats as Coates.
Bayh, a centrist Democrat who served as governor of Indiana from 1988 to 1996 and had a short-lived run for president in the 2008 campaign, faced a reelection challenge from former Republican Sen. Dan Coats. But Bayh said that did not figure in his decision to quit Congress.

Instead, sources close to him said, Bayh had long been frustrated with the partisanship and gridlock that made it hard to make important policy changes in Congress.

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

Two Democratic House members from Indiana -- Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill -- are considered possible candidates to succeed Bayh, but the popular former governor's departure from the ticket gives Democrats a new burden in their already troubled bid to hold onto control of the Senate. It is already widely taken for granted that the midterm elections will reduce the 59-seat majority now held by the Senate Democratic caucus; the only question is how big a bite the GOP will take.

Bayh's is the latest in a steady stream of retirements and other bad news for the Democratic candidate field. In recent weeks, the party's prospects dimmed significantly in Delaware, where the party's preferred candidate -- Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden -- decided not to run. In North Dakota, Democratic Sen. Byron L. Dorgan decided not to seek reelection, leaving the conservative state an almost-certain pick up for Republicans. And New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is facing a potentially bitter Democratic primary fight to win the seat she received by appointment after Hillary Rodham Clinton left the Senate to take on the role of secretary of State.

janet.hook@latimes.com

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