(CNN) - Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, announced Monday afternoon that he will not seek a third term in the Senate - a major blow to Democrats worried about losses in the looming midterm elections.
"Congress is not operating as it should," Bayh said at a news conference in Indianapolis. There is too much partisanship and "the people's business is not getting done."
Bayh said he loves public service, but does "not love Congress" and is "not motivated by strident partisanship or ideology."
He cited the Senate's recent failure to pass a jobs bill and legislation that would have created a deficit reduction commission as evidence of what he characterized as a broken political system.
Bayh, a former two-term governor, was first elected to the Senate in 1998, taking 62 percent of the vote. He won re-election with 64 percent six years later.
Bayh is the third Democratic senator to announce he is retiring when the curtain drops on the 111th Congress. Sens. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota previously announced they would not seek re-election.
In total, Democrats will have to defend five open seats in November, as Roland Burris of Illinois and Ted Kaufman of Delaware have stated they will not run for their own six-year terms. Burris was appointed to President Barack Obama's former Senate seat, while Kaufman was appointed to Vice President Joe
Meanwhile, Republicans will be forced to defend six seats in the midterm elections. Sens. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Kit Bond of Missouri, Jim Bunning of Kentucky, George Voinovich of Ohio and Sam Brownback of Kansas are all retiring at the end of the year.
Sen. George LeMieux of Florida - who was named to replace Sen. Mel Martinez, who resigned before the end of his term - also will vacate his seat.
Dan Coats, former Republican senator, recently announced a bid to challenge Bayh this year. Coats served from 1989 to 1999, but chose not to run for re-election in the 1998 contest that Bayh won. Former Rep. John Hostettler and state Sen. Marlin Stutzman also are bidding for the GOP Senate nomination
Even though Bayh, a political centrist, probably would have faced a difficult re-election battle due to the anti-incumbent political climate, an Indianapolis Star/WTHR poll conducted in November indicated that 61 percent of Indiana voters approved of the job Bayh he was doing, while only 24 percent
One source said Bayh could consider another bid for Indiana governor.
But he "hates the Senate (and) hates the left bloggers," said a friend of the senator who has also served as a longtime adviser. "They are getting their wish (of) pure Democrats in the minority."
A Democratic Party source told CNN that Bayh's announcement took national Democrats by surprise. The source added that Democratic Reps. Baron Hill and Brad Ellsworth and Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel may all consider making bids for the Democratic Senate nomination.
Bayh, a centrist Democrat, was considered a possible running mate for Obama in 2008. Bayh's father, Birch, served three terms in Senate.
– CNN's Mark Preston, Gloria Borger, John King, Paul Steinhauser, Alan Silverleib and Candy Crowley contributed to this report.
Updated: 2:35 p.m.
DemocRATS, sinking ship.
Way to stick it out Evan. Run away when there's the slightest hint of a touch fight. Hope you're not planning to run for higher office.
Good. It's time for all of the "Blue Dog" Dem's to go. They're not much different from the obstructionist ReThuglicans.
The Republican Party is a cult.
WOW!! Another moderate Democrat running for the door!!
Of all the Democrats, Bayh seemed like the most reasonable and level-headed. It looks like the radical left-wing that is in control of the Democratic Party has driven him out. Harry Reid's latest political game of axing a bipartisan jobs bill last week was probably the last straw for Bayh.
The left wing sure does love to eat their own....
Another example of a semi-moderate democrat fleeing the radical BHO agenda...no surprise though – they can't keep the far lefty seats like Reid, Dod and hopefully Pelosi NOR can they keep the blue dogs....BHO has torn the Dem party a part...thank goodness!
Good, let him go. I dont think he was part the change we are seeking to begin with.
Another gutless politician cuts and runs. President Barry Blamebush has really delivered the change we have been looking for. Really folks an enmea placed in our Senate and House would gives us the total cleansing we need.
When the goings get tough, the weak get going.
I am confident that Bayh would have been reelected. But if you believe in term limits, two terms is enough. To win in 1998 with 62% and 2004 with 64% in a heavily republican state says a lot about Bayh serving both republican and democrat Indianians.
Did you ever stop to think that maybe he is leaving the senate because republicans are a major embarrassment and have ruined Washington DC? Life is too short to have to argue with idiots.
Anyone notice the repubs are loosing 6 seats? If you follow politics you would know that this is the time in the cycle when people retire. If you repubs want to make somethig of it, look inward.
Senator Bayh is a good man. I wish him all the best. He is rightfully turning away from the far left agenda of Obama-Pelosi.
He might be retiring from the Senate to challenge Obama in the primaries for 2012. It would be a moderate running against a hard left President.
Oh how Washington is changing.
Not a huge loss – Bayh was no more a moderate Democrat than Collins is a moderate Republican. Bayh was a blue dog who should have been honest and run as a Republican. Collins should be honest and run for the door.
This guy was nothing more than a repub anyway.
I, for one, would like to thank Mr. Bayh for all he's done for not only our State but also for the country. At a time when the political parties are becoming more and more akin the factions of 18th century politics, Sen. Bayh stood by his values and did not merely submit to party ideology.
I would love to see him run for Governor, or even President in 2016. People are always complaining about how our political system needs more centrists and less extremists, yet they ridicule one of the foremost centrists in the Senate. Not only would he do very well with Democrats, but he would easily get the independent vote and I think many Republicans would also vote for him, much in the way that Obama pulled Republican voters.
The American people, contrary to what the Media and the outspoken minority would have you think, want level-headeness and pragmatism in office. But hopefully he'll stray the way of former almost full-govenor of Alaska Sarah Palin and shy away from attention for a while until he has any real plans to do something productive for the well-being of the Country.
Gutless, spineless, aimless Bayh. I guess his wife's connections to all the special interests and lobbyists no longer fed his self-serving interests. Maybe he can get some tips from LIEberman on how to sell-out his wife.
Dont worry he did his job for homebased "Wellpoint health death panels", and im sure they will give him a lobby job.I will never stop blaming Bin Laden for attacking us or Bush and Cheney for purposely allowing it to happen period.
The whole Congress should resign be they Republican, Democrat or whatever they claim to be. Not one of them is going to do anything for anyone but themselves as long as they and their lobbyists buddies are in power.
He almost ran for president, but didn't. He says he a Blue Dog concerned about spending..but when it was time to put up he voted for the unfunded Iraq War at what cost??? Yet he did not want to vote to help the American people and thier health care including those in his state when it came to spending fractions of what we have spent in Iraq. All this talk is madness. Let him go quitely with everyone of the others that voted that way. How is Indiana doing these days anyway? Right maybe Bayh, Pence and Lugar and all go together.
Six Republicans leaving the Senate. Five Democrats.
This is the first year the Senators had to work for their money and they can't stand to do a little work.