Washington (CNN) - Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsworth of Indiana announced Friday that he's decided to make a bid for the seat now held by retiring Sen. Evan Bayh, a fellow Democrat. The two-term congressman confirmed reports of his decision during a listening tour stop in Evansville, Indiana.
"After many conversations with Hoosiers this week, and with the love and support of my family, I have decided to run for the U.S. Senate," Ellsworth said in a statement.
Bayh delivered a major blow Monday to the Democratic Party, when he announced that he would not run for a third term this November.
Ellsworth, first elected in 2006, represents Indiana's eighth congressional district, which is located in the southwest part of the state. The former county sheriff won 61 percent of the vote in his first election, and grabbed 65 percent in his 2008 re-election. Ellsworth, 51, is telegenic and has a moderate voting record that will help him in a swing state like Indiana.
"The best years of my life are the more than two decades I spent in the local Sheriff's department," said Ellsworth in his statement. "Sheriff is a job that comes down to protecting families from harm, helping folks solve their problems or resolve their disputes, and just being willing to put your fellow citizens' best interests ahead of your own. When I look at the U.S. Senate these days, I sure think they could use more folks with those same qualities. And that's something I hope I could bring to the U.S. Senate – an independent voice to help Indiana through these tough economic times, and get things done for everyday folks who are really struggling."
Ellsworth's announcement that he will run for Bayh's seat appears to be major coup for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which was hunting for a strong candidate to defend the seat. The move could also put the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in a bind, as they will most likely now have to defend an another open seat in the House of Representatives. Ellsworth's district went for John McCain by 4 points in the 2008 presidential election and President Bush won the district by 24 points in 2004.
The Indiana Democratic Party's Central Committee will select the party's senate candidate, since no candidate filed the needed signatures to qualify for the primary ballot. The committee must wait until after the May 4 primary to select their candidate. Other state Democrats may be considering a run for Bayh's seat, although Ellsworth is the first to announce.
Bayh's unexpected announcement 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.
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.
Updated: 2:22 p.m.
– CNN's Robert Yoon contributed to this report.
Hope he wins!
Coats will just be another No Republican. He needs to go back to the lobbiests that he is working for, and stay there. A democrat needs to go to washington. Republicans have proven that they do not care about the American People.
Ellsworth might as well forget it if Obama pushes this reconciliation bill to force their health care takeover on the American people. The people have been speaking loud and clear, and this would go down in history as the largest political mistake in history.
He'll have about as much luck as Tiger had with having people accept his apology for F-ing everyone, difference is I guess America is tired of getting F-ed by politicians. At least Tiger's girls got compensated for it, the Liberal Progressives want us to pay to get F-ed and not even enjoy it!
RAT KILLIN TIME AMERICA! CALL TO VOTER ARMS! ALL INCUMBENTS WITH MORE THAN 1 TERM, OUT WITH THE TRASH!
Since when is it funny to mock people, especially a baby, with disabilities? Sarcasm is supposed to be used to make a point. What was the point here? What a stupid show.
I hope that people in Indiana are not blind to see who is right who is wrong. Republican is smart to get attention but not to run office. What we, american people need is people who can run the office, who can work work for people, not just for their pocket money.
with skyrocketting health care we are having, we need to have people who listen us, of course those people are not people like Palin, Limbaugh, Romney and many other republican.
Isn't this the same Sarah Palin who proposed cutting the Special Olympics funding by half when she was governor? You betcha! What a foul hypocrite.
Don't know if he is a real Democrat or if he is one of those Republicans in Dem clothing. Lets hope the Democratic Party can discern the difference.
I like Brad Ellsworth's profile. He seems ambitious and willing to do the right thing. There appears to be no blue-blood sense of entitlement from him.
I'm glad to see Evan Bayh leave. I never like his distain and arrogant stance when he was around Pres Obama. He showed it all over.
I picked up on that arrogance everytime he shook Obama's hand. He'd shake with his right hand, then took his left hand and squeezed the back of Obama's neck – above the collar – like guys do when they pinch your cheek when they greet you. Jealousy and mad as hell he was not VP pick.
God bless, and thank you, Mr. Ellsworth. Congress is a mess. We need more new, fresh people who will actually take care of our business. I like the idea he is a middle class man. I'm very disgusted with the so-called credit card "fix" that has royally stuck it to the middle class working people. I also was horrified at the health care reform ideas coming out of the democrats in Congress...cutting anything from Medicare is a bad idea since a record number of baby boomers are starting to retire. Also, no tort reform?? Give me a break. This could have been a much easier fix.
I' gonna do my homework on this Democrat. And I hope he is sincere.But I would never, never vote Republican-Tea Party.
Their signs did it for me. Ugly, Ugly signs. Against our President.
Hugo – go fly a plane into a building like the nutjobs calling for violence. Be sure the building is empty and YOU are the pilot.
Well, time we tell who get that office!
Bayh leaving the Senate is no blow to the Senate. He was a traitor to healthcare reform – why- because he needed to protect his wife's perks as a director on the board of Wellpoint – one of the largest and worst abusive insurance companies in the country.
We need new Democrats not tied to corporations like all Republicans are. Democrats are working for the People, most of them. Republicans are working for the Corporations and Banks and that's why they vote NO on ALL legislation designed to help the working class. They serve their rich white corporate buddies and could care less what is going on "beneath" them in the real world.
PLease someone address the issue of abuse of gov't aircraft by Nancy Pelosi. The word on the street is that it cost taxpayers $400,000,000.00 dollars last year for her abuse of gov't aircraft.
All of you who think Ellsworth is just gonna win this seat with just a snap of a finger are just a bunch of RETATRDS.
In fact more than Andrea Fay Friedman, who by the way is a DISGRACE to people with Down Syndrome everywhere!
Anyone is better than that blue dog phony. I hope he can pull off a win.
bayh didnt deliver major blow to indiana.as a lifetime hoosier of 70 years i am glad to see him go.maybe he can help his rich wife with her exective position in health care.BYE BAYH GOOD RIDDENCE.HE IS NO HOOSIER. WE WILL TAKE ELSWORTH ANY DAY.ANY TIME
GI Joe- why the hate toward hugo, I read that post, he is simply stating the obvious that all Incumbents need to go, both parties. You know I'm a liberal and it does us all a disservice when you spew hatred and such. Rat killing is a term used to VOTE them out of office, not cause violence or physical harm to anyone. What you insinuated is truly disgusting, what kind of a person are you, you're no better than a GOPer?