February 15th, 2010
02:35 PM ET
2 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
disapproved.

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. TG

    I live in Indiana. Evan Bayh is my senator. I'm thrilled he's leaving, because he wasn't representing the majority interests of his state when he was casting votes. He was representing the party, and that would have cost him BIG in our state. Now, I actually liked him as governor. He did a good job. But, I have not liked him as a senator, because of what I just said: He didn't represent Hoosiers with his votes. He represented his party. He's an honest man, and perhaps he got sick of having to do that.

    February 15, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  2. independent

    It would be easy to blame the GOP for political intransigence and gridlock. Ultimately, it is the American voters who are to blame.

    It sounds strange to say it, but it is true. The American voter, apathetic in good times, polarized and self interested in bad; is it any wonder we have the Congress we have and the mess in which we find ourselves.

    February 15, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  3. Libertarian

    Looks like all the slackers in Congress are bailing out now that someone turned up the heat on them. The American people are demanding action and transparency. The ones that can't really "produce" and are just living off the public dime are bailing. Most of them probably have a few "side businesses" being run out of their office and want out before the scrutiny uncovers their real reason for being in Washington.

    February 15, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  4. Edward in Salt Lake City

    So, Libs, is this guy a quitter like Palin was? Just curious...

    February 15, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  5. Vlad

    This guy is a Dem, or so it says in the article.

    I am fairly centrist and I am getting scared of all the extreame left and extreame right policians in the government. I was glad to see the Republicans get defeated last round to give the Dems control, now I see the left wing wacos are not working out, and I hope to see control swing back to the republicans. The reality of the matter is though is that I hope the Gov moves more toward the middle, ends partisianship, and gets back to work fixing things, instead of creating more broken govenrment. I think this is wishfull thinking though, as one party races down the mountain at 200mph toward a crash at the bottom, as the other party races at 200mph toward a crash at the peak. I wish the Government would follow the will of the masses instead of creating their own selfish agenda, and calling it 'the right thing to do'. I think if the politicians werent all rich and smug, or rich and selfish, they would undersand that most of what they are doing only help the rich.

    February 15, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. Dave

    Bayh and the Democratic leadership in Congress should take responsibility for their inability to govern instead of giving up. Pathetic.

    February 15, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  7. jules sand-perkins

    "A broken political system," Senator Bayh?
    No. We have the very best political system that man can devise.
    What you are abandoning is a broken administration that we elected, in error, believing its promises to be more centrist.

    February 15, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  8. dave in NH

    thankyou senator –
    I just wished all the other congressman & senators would resign as well. The people are tired of nothing getting done this year.

    February 15, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  9. LLL

    I am not from Indiana, but I'm sad to see him go. He was one of the few remaining rational people in Congress. I would love to see him run for Pres one day. I think he'd make an excellent candidate.

    February 15, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. haren

    I must give credit to Rush,Hannity,Beck and fox channel for brain washing all thease Red neck republican and tea party voters for voting against their own Benefit program.

    February 15, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. SueAnne

    Just what the just-say-no partisan Republicans want: a level-headed, centrist Democrat to quit. You're playing right into their hands, Senator.

    February 15, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  12. Bones

    I would like to thank Evan for quitting while things got tough. Um... things are Partisan now Evan? Where have you been since you joined the senate? This is nothing new... If anything this would be the time to buckle down and try and fix things rather than tuck and run. If this is the type of public servant you are then the state of Indiana should be ashamed.

    February 15, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. JonDie

    He is, of course, right...though no Republican actually would believe such a thing; a Republicans making such a comment is trying playing the game of getting into power.

    February 15, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  14. The Clear Thinking Independent

    Wouldn't it have been great if Mr. Bayh took this opportunity to

    1.) Seek relection
    2.) Win a 6 year term
    3.) Spend that 6 years calling out members of Congress that are not operating properly.

    He'd have nothing to lose and would have won the hearts of independent thinking voters from all parties.

    February 15, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. rjt

    I figure that the Democratic Party is forcing him out. He bropke ranks with the Obama left and they cannot handle it. They probably have some nasty stuff hiddn on him ready to drag out from under the bed and he knows its over. Resign or else. Sort of what the Obama administration is doing to Gov. Patterson in New York. Smells like Rahm Emmanuel's dirty work. He makes Karl Rove look like an alter boy.

    February 15, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. S Callahan

    Oh what fools....he is building capital....future Presidential running.
    He's not unpopular in his state..look at the stats. He's going to regroup.

    February 15, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  17. Jack

    I wish to thank CNN, 1st, for Ali Velshi's interview with Time magazine and David k. in Ali's interview on the stimulus and bank bailouts! It was finally something positive, really giving the truth to the American people. Bayh's decision not to run again for the Senate should be a wake-up call for the American people- that no decision or saying "NO" just isn't acceptable. CNN could do the country a great service by investigating what is causing this. Fear of being re-elected? Greed for campaign funds? Lobbyists? Our country deserves better servants than this, especially when our country is in such a crisis. If congress can't work together, maybe all of them should be replaced! Our country deserves better servants that work to make us a great nation!

    February 15, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  18. Michael

    Regardless of what is going on with someone packing it in. It is very very clear that the Republicans are a party of NO. The American people will continue to suffer as long as they are a party. They are a cancer to politics.

    February 15, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  19. Mike in MN

    Bayh cited two recent bills that died because of partisan politics. The jobs bill and a bill to set up a bipartisan commision to find ways to reduce the defict.
    In the meeting a week or so ago where Obama stood before the Democrat Senators and took questions, Bayh asked that in light of Obama's recently released new budget, why should voters trust Democrats on spending and the deficit.
    Bayh also said a few days ago that if Obama and the Democrats don't get what the people are saying in all the polls and the Republican wins in Mass., Virginia and N.J., they never will.
    Bayh is a moderate who believes the Democrat leader ship has pulled to far to the left for a center right nation. But he has also made it clear that the Republicans are also guility of the partisan politics that he can no longer stand.
    Sounds to me like Bayh is the type of Senator most voters would like to see stay instead of leave. All those except for liberal/progressives and far right conservatives.

    February 15, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  20. Padraig

    Well, I am not a big supporter of Senator Bayh but I would like to thank him for the service to the country. He was a moderate who attempted to look out for his own constituents and the country.

    What I find interesting is that he is getting stick from both sides in the "Leave Your Comment".

    Isaac mentioned it was good for him to go because he wasn't part of the changes to begin with.
    or
    Marge w. mentioned This guy was nothing more than a repub anyway.

    People like the above are what is worse in this nation at the moment. Narrow minded and looking out for their own special interests and there definition of entitlements.

    Forget, about placing their fellow man and nation ahead of their own open handed wants. A very sad state.

    February 15, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  21. voter

    Please. Bayh believes the dems don't have the backbone to make tuff decisions. Why was he waning on voting for hcr? The only reason he voted for the bill was due to the leak that his wife worked for a health insurance company. He had to refute the notion that his wife's company was lobbying him to vote no for the bill. He apparently has no backbone to vote for the dems bill. He mostly votes republican. I rather a republican take the seat then a hyprocrite who claims to be dem, but votes republican.

    February 15, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  22. wake up

    Quit the political arguing...dem vs repub. both parties are corrupt. Why do you people get on here calling names and advocated one side. BOTH SIDES ARE CORRUPT AND only WANT POWER. Less government is ONLY answer.

    Both parties should take Bayh's announcement as a indictment of the ineptness.

    February 15, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  23. New Father

    "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." and many of you blame the republicans, come on read stop being uneducated spammers. Every bill Obama voted on that was passed through the Democrat majority was signed into law by Bush. So as a Senator he 'Read' all the bills being passed into law with Pelosi and Reid in charge since Jan 2007.

    February 15, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  24. TamarS

    good for him. unfortunately it won't change the behavior of elected officials in the congress only for themsleves and not the rest of us!

    February 15, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  25. Sue

    The moderate/blue dog Dems should have stood their ground against Obama, Pelosi, and Reid-–instead of letting the 3 stooges destroy their political careers.

    I find it funny that liberals "think" that they have a chance of winning the Bayh seat-–when the reason that Bayh was leaving office--was due to the struggle he would have keeping that seat--due to the unpopularity of the agendas/policies of Obama, Pelosi and Reid.

    Evan Bayh was a moderate/blue dog in a conservative leaning district-–who knew that he was going to have to fight to keep his seat--and liberals "think" that a liberal Dem has a chance here???? That is too funny.

    The Republican Dan Coats just jumped into the race recently. Dan Coats is VERY popular in Indiana. Evan Bayh must have been doing his own internal polling-–and realized that he was going to have a VERY hard time fighting to keep his seat.

    February 15, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
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