(CNN) – Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, told supporters Tuesday he will not challenge Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, in November and instead will run for re-election of his House seat.
Pence, who serves as chairman of the House Republican Conference, made the announcement in a letter that was posted to his Facebook page.
"After much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to remain in the House and to seek reelection to the 6th Congressional District in 2010," Pence wrote in the letter. "I am staying for two reasons. First because I have been given the responsibility to shape the Republican comeback as a member of the House Republican Leadership and, second, because I believe Republicans will win back the majority in the House of Representatives in 2010."
National Republicans were hoping that Pence would make the race because they saw him as the strongest candidate to challenge Bayh this year. Pence has a national following within the conservative movement and would likely have been able to raise enough money to compete with Bayh, who was first elected in 1998.
Asked by reporters about his reaction to the Pence decision, Bayh admittedly gave what he called a "non-answer."
"We have a very good relationship and I wish him well in his good service in the House of Representatives," said Bayh.
Full text of letter after the jump:
January 26, 2010
Open Letter to Friends and Supporters
As many of you are aware, I have been approached about running for the United States Senate in 2010. Karen and I have been humbled by the outpouring of support and encouragement which we received from across Indiana, especially since there are several capable and qualified candidates already seeking the Republican nomination.
After much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to remain in the House and to seek reelection to the 6th Congressional District in 2010.
I am staying for two reasons. First because I have been given the responsibility to shape the Republican comeback as a member of the House Republican Leadership and, second, because I believe Republicans will win back the majority in the House of Representatives in 2010.
One year ago I was unanimously elected chairman of the House Republican Conference, the third ranking position in House Republican leadership. I accepted that responsibility because I believed that if Republicans returned to their conservative roots, they could win back the confidence of the American people. And I see it happening every day.
As a Republican leader, I have the opportunity to shape the policy and strategy that will return a Republican majority to the Congress in 2010. So my duty is here, in the House, serving my constituents and my colleagues as we fight to restore a conservative majority to the Congress of the United States. I am not going to leave my post when the fate of the House hangs in the balance. My place is here, in that fight, with the brave men and women who will be winning that victory for the American people.
I also am staying because I believe we will win back the majority in the House of Representatives in 2010, and I am excited to be a part of it. While the opportunity to serve in the United States Senate is significant, I believe the best chance this nation has to restore fiscal discipline, common sense and common values to Washington, D.C., is for conservatives to retake the House in 2010. When we win back the House, we will make history and we will have the power to stop the big government plans of this administration and to steer our nation to a more secure, free and prosperous future.
Last fall, Karen and I completed our first full marathon. We finished the 26.2 miles in just under seven hours despite the rigors on this 50 year-old body and despite many opportunities to step off the track and call it a day. Our inspiration for the day came from a verse in the Bible that reads, "let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
I believe the race marked out for me in 2010 is in the House of Representatives. I believe that if we run that race with conviction and endurance, we can win back the Congress for the common sense and the common values of the American people, turn this tide of big government back and set the stage for a boundless American future.
Thanks to you all who prayed our little family through this difficult decision. I hope that God will someday permit me to perform some wider service to the people of Indiana and the country, but for now my focus must remain on finishing the job I was elected to do by my constituents and my Republican colleagues; representing conservative values in Congress and winning back the House of Representatives.