February 15th, 2010
02:35 PM ET
6 years ago

Bayh announces retirement from U.S. Senate

Sen. Evan Bayh will not seek a third term, giving Republicans a prime pick-up opportunity in Indiana.

Sen. Evan Bayh will not seek a third term, giving Republicans a prime pick-up opportunity in Indiana.

(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
Biden's seat.

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
in Indiana.

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.

Filed under: 2010 • Evan Bayh • Indiana • Popular Posts
soundoff (167 Responses)
  1. jim atmadison

    Yay! The vast majority of Americans, including those in Indiana, want real health care reform. Instead, this guy gets in the way of reform and tries to run as GOP-lite.

    If you aren't going to stand up for principles or for the American people, you need to get out of the way.

    February 15, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. Courtney Anne

    Where is the democratic backbone in this country? Senator Bayh is a coward. Ted Kennedy was not. We elected Barack Obama for health care reform and other real change, in contrast from the Republican party. This makes me sick. Our country is going into a free fall, because some democrats can't stand up to the republican party that got us into this terrible mess in our country in the first place.

    Courtney from Ft. Myers, FL

    February 15, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  3. Steve (the real one)

    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
    I actually though about that. However my conclusion is his own party has left him behind. Why? He is a moderate and it appears there is no room for moderates! BOTH PARTIES! I can admit it, you can't! You still don't think your dems are an embarassment? WAKE UP!!

    February 15, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  4. RealityKing

    Lifetime pension with healthcare..., who's the fool??

    February 15, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  5. Baby Boomer

    I think he will try to run in the 2012 primary against President Obama. That's what he's really interested in. Thing is, we won't forget that he helped block health care reform. He'll never make it past the early primaries.

    February 15, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |

    Who can blame him? Fighting the Republicanische Bund on a daily basis must be both tiring and discouraging.

    February 15, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  7. Virginia

    More of those doddering old fools need to retire. I believe none in congress should serve more than 2 terms. That would restrict the damage they do and cut back on the pork they send home.

    February 15, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  8. Dan

    Really "If I was crazy I'd be a conservative too", you call us Indianaians, Do you not get out a lot we're HOOSIERS! And I glad to see Byah go, hopefully now Indiana will have someone who won't support the hard left. The governor has gotten this state in the great shape its in now. Now its time to send someone to DC who also believes in being a fiscal conservative.

    February 15, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  9. Rick, Richmond IN

    Thank you Evan Bayh, for your service to our state, and our country. You're a level headed man. I hope you continue to serve in some capacity.

    February 15, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  10. D.D.

    Every other day someone is going home. Will someone explain his/her future plans?
    I fear they are being outstead to home.

    February 15, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  11. Eggs Benedict

    Why did he wait so long??????

    February 15, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  12. Rob Stumpf

    Crazies in both parties often are too clueless to understand a basic fact of political life- your side can't win without moderates- and that doesn't matter how many parties there are. You can't win with just YOU and people that think exactly like you.

    So if liberal Dems are happy moderates like Bayh are leaving, you have to wonder what exactly is it they're smoking.

    February 15, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  13. Independant in Missouri

    Hopefully a democratic presidential primary is in the works. Bayh is actually willing to be bi-partisan and not govern from the fringe. He'd make a much better president. Bayh would make a qualified and honest leader, a big improvement from the joke we have now.

    February 15, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  14. Issano

    Always felt Bayh was a sellout and more aligned with the GOP. He was never a full Obama supporter after being passed over for the Vice President slot. Good riddance!

    February 15, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. Steve (the real one)

    It appears BOTH parties want STEPFORD cronies. What ever happened to representing the PEOPLE. Indiana voters knew Bayh was a moderate, yet they voted for him to represent THEM! You far lefties cannot tolerate anyone who is not in lockstep with the administration! Yet you wag your fingers at the GOP for the SAME thing! THAT is the definition of hypocrisy!

    February 15, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  16. Stephen, Dallas

    All the Republican Senate retirements will be replaced with even more conservative Republicans. All the Democratic retirements will be replaced with Republicans. I am beginning to have HOPE that real CHANGE is finally taking place. As Martha says, "it's a good thing."

    February 15, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. Issano

    Now, eleven Republicans retiring.....LOL

    February 15, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  18. Former Republican

    I wish all of the ones Republican and Democrat that play games with American lives would retire. We want action in D. C. I am sick of the reactionary hearings that are constantly held and the grandstanding. I don't blame Senator Bayh, who wants to go to work and feel as if they are attending a 3 Ring Circus.

    February 15, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  19. Mike, Indiana

    What difference is it going to make? He didn't do anything to stand up to the Republicans in the Senate when they decided to obstruct EVERYTHING that came their way. Maybe with him not in the next Congress we can get someone with an actual spine who's tough on the opposition and willing to call them out for their childish "we didn't get we want, so you can't have anything" attitude towards governing. Or at least replace him with a Republican who's willing to actually listen and consider different ideas put before them.

    But that's probably just a hopeful naive thought.

    February 15, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  20. Allen, Texas

    I have an idea. Why don't all the Democratic Senators retire and let's elect all Republicans. This country hasn't seen anything yet. Let's elect an all Republican Congress. We think George Bush ruined the economy, wait till we have an all Republican Congress when all the tax breaks goes to the rich and we the middle and the underclass contunue to subsidize them. We don't have any deficit now. By the time the Republicans are through, we will all be working for China and all the other countries who own our debts. If Americans are stupid enough to even be thinking of giving power back to these buffoons who calls themselves Republicans, we elect the government we deserve. Instead of electing more Progresives who would help this President carry out his agenda of saving this country, we need to reelect the Republicans who got us into the mess. I'm all for that, and then we can really call ourselves a Third World country, when our economy eventually tanks and we have another Civil War.

    February 15, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  21. alphonso

    i dont blame him one bit he would rather b governor again.he is tired of all the bickering n washington!

    February 15, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  22. Shocked in Indiana

    I am shocked that so many think Bayh was such a Republican – he voted the Democrat party line over 90 some odd percent of the time. The Blue Dogs Democrats are Dem's that require pork for them to vote the party line and they usually do vote the party line – so they are just smart Democrats! Bayh would have been defeated in November because it came out that he voted the party line on the Health Care Bill – and got nothing for it unlike many other Democrats that held out until they got $$ for their vote. If you are going to vote against what 70% of your constituents believe you had better have something to sweeten the bitter pill. Bayh was too Democrat to do that.

    February 15, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  23. rachel

    The liberal wing is trying to highjack the democratic party. Face it the country is center start governing that way.

    February 15, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  24. 101sonny

    Dear Joe Chicago;Democrates sinking ship.Beg to differ;Getting rid of turncoats more likely.More of these saboteurs should follow his example.Don't care what he runs for I would not vote for him.Can't be trusted,to vote for the populace as required.At 40,000 to 50,000 people dying per year,not to mention how many homes that have been destroyed due to lack of health care.I would not want him for a neighbor as well.Lack of health care all these years would easlly # in the 100,000's thousands.One thing he can't hide is how crippeled he is inside.Think of this;they are the people that counteded on him that he was supposed to help.Your realitives,neighborsand friends.Did'nt mean to hurt you as an explanetation will not surffice....Bernie

    February 15, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  25. Issano

    Bayn was never a team player...sneaky and deceitful. What a horrible mess he has left the party with...quitting at the last minute for signatures to be garnered.

    February 15, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
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