Washington (CNN) - Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh says his decision to retire at the end of the year rather than run for re-election has not left his party in a bind.
"The party hasn't been left in the lurch. We have a real shot of winning this election and having a good senator follow me in the United States Senate. And I'm going to help that individual very vigorously," Bayh said Tuesday on CNN's American Morning.
The two-term senator's unexpected announcement Monday gives national Republicans one of their best opportunities to takeover a Democratic seat, according to independent analyses from two leading non-partisan political handicappers. The Cook Political Report revised its rating for the Indiana contest to "Leans Republican" shortly after news of Bayh's decision broke. The race had previously been rated "Leans Democratic." The Rothenberg Political Report modified its rating from a "narrow advantage" for Democrats to "toss-up," meaning the race could go either way.
But Bayh says he's confident the Democrats will be competive in the contest.
"I do think we have a strong chance of being successful this fall. We've got several congressmen who are considering this race, some other substantial figures who are considering this race. The republican party has a five-way primary, five way. I mean, they're going to be very divided before this is over. We have a chance to focus on the fall campaign. I think our candidate will start off with a monetary advantage. Indiana's a challenging state. But if we nominate the right person, i think we've got a real shot," Bayh told American Morning anchors John Roberts and Kiran Chetry.
Both Cook and Rothenberg had Bayh as a lock for re-election until the announcement earlier this month that former Republican Sen. Dan Coats, who once held Bayh's seat, was mulling a challenge. According to Cook and Rothenberg, a Bayh-Coats match-up would have been competitive, with a slight advantage for Bayh as the incumbent.
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn