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. Brad-Indiana

    I too would like to thank Senator Bayh. I personally voted for Mr. Bayh 4 times (twice for Gov and twice for Senator). I also voted for Ronal Reagon and once for Bill Clinton (second time). I would like to see all politicians resign after two terms. We don't allow the President more than two terms, why not Senators? Congressman/woman should have their term changed to 4 years and only be allowed two or three terms. It would be a great benefit to our country if we had term limits.

    February 15, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  2. Doug,lib jersey

    He may have a strand of morals, decency, and honesty in his body, therefore it is impossible to go along as part of America's enemy, the hate filled lie at all costs Demoncrats.

    Witness how people act in areas that are very liberal Vs. very conservative, that is the real truth on the two Americas. The most selfish, mean, dishonest people are always liberal.

    Did you get snow? Funny how all your Democrat neighbors are the ones who leave a pile of snow on their roof to go kill some on the road while every Republican clears all of it off!

    February 15, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  3. Mary

    This guy was a Democrat in name only anyway. He is no loss to the Democrats.

    February 15, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  4. sam

    Sounds to me like he is unhappy with a party that couldnt come together and get something done when it had full control of it all. I dont blame him.

    February 15, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  5. DC, Michigan

    mike, quit yawning and wake up. He isn't a GOPer, he is another moderate Dem that can't stand his own parties games anymore.

    February 15, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  6. john

    I guess if you jump off of a sinking ship (democRAT party) then at least you can say you weren't on the ship when it sank (this November).

    February 15, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  7. June

    Bayh was one of the rational Dems, who number few. Good for him for going on to a productive job rather than staying with the the sinking ship being driven by the likes of Reid, Pelosi and, sadly, Obama.

    February 15, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  8. Helen, Indianapolis

    What a wonderful thing! I was facing a dilemma a few weeks ago. Whether to vote for a republican who espouses very few of the opinions I hold regarding governing; or to not vote at all. I finally rested on voting Bayh out and voting a republican in. Bayh has done nearly everything he could to obstruct Obama. I think the fact that he did not get to be HRC's V.P stole the joy out of doing nothing.

    Bayh has Never had the intestinal fortitude to stand for ANYthing. I'm GLAD he's leaving.

    February 15, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. really

    Why does everyone feel the need to name call? What America needs is a moderate who looks out for all of America – I don't care if they are democratic or republlican as long as they have experience, ability and a willingness to work hard to bring America back to the grand country it once was.

    February 15, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  10. Gavin

    Bayh would have won reelection. We are all very cynical in this country (usually for good reason), but I don't for one second doubt that an executive like Bayh has hated his time in the Senate.

    By it's nature, Congress is designed to NOT get much done. That is frustrating for those who are used to being proactive – regardless of their political beliefs.

    February 15, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  11. Franky, Land of Lincoln

    Ha, ha!!

    That's what you get Dems, if you think you're liberal agenda is gonna get you somewhere, you are sadly mistaken. In some ways, this is in fact big news, it is a major blow for Dems, I think so.

    Ha, ha!!!!

    February 15, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  12. FactCheck

    I guess he's done lining his bank account quite nicely, thanks to all of his wife's lobbyist "connections".

    February 15, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  13. Bob in VA

    Great choice left for Indiana voters: Some loser Democrat vs. tired retread GOP hack lobbyist Dan Coats.

    February 15, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  14. Hoosier

    Bayh was 'well-enough' liked in the state to get re-elected. He really represented that Clintonian "chamber of commerce" democratic point of view that helped bring us where we are economically. Sorry to see him go? Only if someone like Coats or Pence takes his place.

    February 15, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  15. Tim

    For all you slow learners, let me explain what's happening. Centrist Democrats are moving on after discussing the health care plans with Obama, Reid and Pelosi. They are told that they will not get support during the re-election campaigns unless they support the healthcare debacle. So they will either vote against it an move on, or will vote for it in exchange for some political favors in the future.

    You thought the conrhusker and Louisiana purchase were untethical, just wait to until you hear about the deals being made now.

    February 15, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  16. Dan in FL

    Congressmen and Senators alike are coming to the realization that their past practice of avoiding controversial budget decisions is coming to an end. Whoever is in office will be forced to make ugly fiscal choices that could have easily been avoided if our representatives had only made more responsible decisions in the past. Given the federal spending and tax decisions that will have to be made, those remaining in office will be despised by the electorate, but the real blame lies with many of those who are no longer in the public eye.

    February 15, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. Jim - Wauwatosa

    I think he can beat Mike Huckabee in 2012.

    February 15, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. lilacluvr

    I suspect he is thinking of a run for president in 2012 but won't his special interest in his wife's connection to the health insurance industry be a minefield for the Democratic nomination?

    Maybe he is considering a third party bid? Now that would make it interesting.

    I would love to see a moderate get into a position to take on both parties. The Tea Party is too wrapped up in the Republican Party and won't be seen as anything but the clowns at that GOP big tent. The Democratic Party needs a swift boot in their collectives asses.

    But, I also suspect Bayh is just going the way of most retired politicians – lobbyist job somewhere keeping the current corrupt political system going.

    February 15, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. Dennis

    As far as Democrats go, Bayh was not too bad.

    February 15, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |

    Bayh Bayh!

    He saved his hide to fight another day. The Obama & Co. wrecking crew are going to put a lot of the Dems who decide to stick it out into "permanent retirement" after next Nov.

    February 15, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. Jane

    Imagine that...all these deadbeat senators retiring (kinda like cockroaches running when the lights are turned on). Guess they figure they need to retire before they loose their seat - they need to secure their retirement $$ and benefits before the American voters try to reduce the fat cat way of life for politicians.

    February 15, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  22. Madeline

    Obama becoming a jinx to good democrat. This is sad.

    February 15, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  23. Anthony

    yeah let them all leave and start over I am tired of them (D & R) it is just sad both parties should be ashamed of themselves.

    February 15, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  24. JLM

    Well he did say that he can't work with the party of no any longer.

    February 15, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. Jim, Fort Wayne, Indiana

    What is wrong with a centrist democrat? When Bill Clinton compromised with republicans I remember positive results and good times for the country. Maybe I have a poor memory.

    February 15, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
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