(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.
Another GoPer retiring is no big news to me ... he knows he aint got a chance to win if a real Dem challenges him in the primaries ...
Bayh has represented our state well. I'm disappointed that it's him and not Lugar who is retiring, only because of Lugar's refusal to work toward health care reform. Lugar has been a disappointment lately.
Republicans won't have to "defend" anything.
They know the Dems have hoisted themselves on their own petard and need no help in continuing their fall.
I'm confused as to why exactly...he was one of the few Dems in swing states with a decent chance of reelection.
being a conservative i would have voted for evan bayh it really makes me think of obama in the pocket of all the lefties did he not see that 20 percent of vters are liberals 40 percent are conservative and 40 percent independents who he is losing in all polls a giant tsunami started in massassachusetts and sweep all the way to california taking reid and boxer with it
To GC Below,
Please not that almost all of the Republican Senators not running for reelection are "moderates" (read RINOs: Republican in Name Only) and are highly likely to be challenged by Conservative candidates in primary elections, lifted by a Conservative ascendancy, the NRA, the Tea-Party and local political issues that have been ignored, or worse scorned, by the Democrat Controlled Congress and Pres. Obama.
The "Bitter-Clingers" (as we were called) are ticked off at a Democrat Congress and White House that has been trying to jam an agenda down the throat of the American people who wholeheartedly disagree with the plan proposed.
The American people gave Pres. Obama a chance with a Congress completely controlled by his own party, and Republicans powerless to stop his agenda. He tipped his big-government hand, and the public is now running screaming from it.
Evan was really a moderate democrat and I voted for him...too bad the liberal donkeys have hijacked the party....you all are going to get a change come the next election, but it won't be what you are looking for... if the donkeys are smart (not likely) they will listen to what all the Independent voters are telling them....
Vote Congress out, “you are fired” if they are in. Vote them out this fall no matter what party they belong to, and in the next election and every election going forward until they become the servants of the people once more.
I think on both sides, this epidemic of retiring stems from the fear of losing a re-election bid. And I believe they fear it because the President has pretty much laid it out on the table that if you are accepting money from lobbyists, then you're in Congress for the wrong reasons.
And that's essentially almost all of the older, coincidentally retire-age, politicians.
God forbid they would actually have to gather a platform for the people to support, then just assume they'll stay in power thanks to their friends on Wall Street or the Oil Industry. Of course, in this case... those giant Tycoons almost always support the more...Republican.. members.
It is truly amazing to see how all the left-wingers on this board attack a decent, level-headed politician that has been frustrated into retiring. And these are the same kooks that rant about Republicans having a litmus test?
Seems like nobody but a committed left-wing socialist or communist is welcome in the Democratic party these days. And that is NOT where Americans are, or want to go!
With all of the retirements maybe some are getting the message. Now if voters will demand honesty as a requirement for election we still have a chance to turn our government around.
BEN NELSON of Nebraska and Blanche Lincoln or Arkansas will follow. Instead for doing what is Right and support healthcare reform, you got scared by the noise of paid tea baggers kill reform alienating your base in playing political game to look good to some stupid right wing nuts who will never vote for you because you are democrat.
It's amazing how constant lying in this country will convice people to vote against their own interest.
When the going gets tough . . . The weak quit. It is either that or the people were about to fire him and he doesn't have the backbone to Fight for his beliefes.
Another one bites the dust. They are like rats jumping from a sinking ship. Too bad the country is the ship.
As a Hoosier Democrat, I am so happy to see Bayh leave office. He is a selfish person and was the antithesis of change. He never helped his party and, to point out his selfishness again, only cared about himself. Announcing he will not seek reelection at this time is just another example. Anyone wishing to run for office in Indiana has until noon on Friday to file to run, and anyone running for Senate has to collect 500 signatures from each Congressional district. This puts the Democrats in Indiana at a disadvantage, possibly having no one to run for this seat, handing it to a member of the Party of No, even though Bayh was more Republican Light than a Democrat. Once again Bayh has put himself above the good of his party, and most importantly his state and country.
They might well gest a head start on leaving as this is going to be a clean the house election in 2010. Every incumbent is in jeopardy. Leaving voluntary saves face. I wish more would get the message.
This guy's too young and had too short of a career to just be quitting. I think this is a "Chip Pickering" deal, and we're going to find out later that he got caught in a big scandal and bailed before it could surface. Nobody just quits the senate because it got too contentious. Arguing IS the job. The Senate isn't some Facebook page or Battlestar Galactica forum that you can just walk out on when the arguments get too nasty. There's something fishy abou this...
Both parties are a joke, doesn't matter if you're a dem or rep. Both parties are bailing because they know voters are tired of their lazy, self-serving ways. Voters must keep up the pressure by voting out any incumbent. Again, doesn't mean you have to vote in the other party, just vote our your parties incumbent candidate with new blood.
What's really a joke is how they all refer to their tenures as overlords as "public service"
Actually, sorry to see him go. The democratic party is being hijacked by big government, big spending liberals and progressives. We need more sensible fiscal conservatives more than ever (because of the Obama and Bush administration spending). We will see more bipartisanship if the congress is more balanced and Reid & Pelosi are gone in the fall. Gov works better without supermajorities.
Heaven help us if there's a republican majority. There goes enlightenment thinking. What is everyone so afraid of?
The blue dog democrats are essential to keeping spending under some kind of control. It is out of hand right now.
They get paid more money as lobbyist and that's where most retiring senators go to work. Democrat or Republican, they don't want change in Washington, they prefer lobbyist and big corporate dollars. Think about it and do your own fact checking.
I am from Indiana, and a Democrat will not win in Nov . Bayh betrayed this state by taking bribes from Obama when he knew the majority of the people here did not like the Health care bill, he voted yes on the bill from the Senate. The dems are saying he is leading in the poles in Indiana, this is another lie, he is not. We welcome this news and hope Baron Hill the other traitor from Indiana does the same. The majority of people here plan to clean house.
Anyone for term limits? Two terms as a senator seems plenty.