Washington (CNN) – Two well respected non-partisan political analysts have changed their ratings of this year's Senate race in Indiana, now that former Republican Sen. Dan Coats is taking the first steps towards challenging the incumbent, Democrat Evan Bayh.
Coats, who held the seat from 1989 to 1999, opened an exploratory committee Wednesday . Following that announcement The Cook Political Report moved it's characterization of the race from solid Democrat to lean Democrat. A solid rating means the contest is not considered competitive and not likely to become closely contested. A lean rating means the race is considered competitive but one party has an advantage.
The Rothenberg Political report also moved its ranking of the contest from currently safe to narrow advantage for the incumbent.
"Former Sen. Dan Coats' likely entry into the Indiana Senate race puts another seat into play for Republicans. Coats last served in the Senate a decade ago and Democrats are already attacking him for living in Virginia since then, but the Republican should be a credible alternative for voters who are dissatisfied with the direction of the country and the party in power," writes Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the Rothenberg Political Report.
Political analysts point out that Coats will need to quickly build a campaign structure to compete with Bayh, who had $13 million in the bank at the beginning of the year.
Rep. Coats was appointed senator in 1989, to replace Dan Quayle, who stepped down after his election as vice president. Coats won a special election in 1990 and election to a full term in 1992. He did not seek re-election in 1998. Bayh, Indiana's governor from 1987 to 1997, won the election to the senate in 1998 and grabbed 62 percent of the vote in his 2004 re-election.
The other Republicans, former Rep. John Hostettler and State Senator Marlin Stutzman, are also seeking the GOP Senate nomination.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana, opened an exploratory committee Wednesday as he considers a challenge to Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, in November.
"After much thoughtful consideration, I have authorized my supporters to begin gathering signatures as I test the waters for a potential challenge to Evan Bayh in 2010," Coats said in a statement released early Wednesday afternoon. "Over the next few weeks, I will be talking to Hoosiers from all walks of life, and I will make a formal announcement regarding my intentions in the near future."
CNN reported early Wednesday morning that Coats was considering challenging Bayh for the Senate seat he once held from 1989 to 1999.
(Read Coats' full statement)
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana, is expected to announce Wednesday that he will challenge Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, in November, a Republican source told CNN.
Coats held the Senate seat that Bayh now occupies from 1989 to 1999.
It is a big recruiting success for Senate Republicans, who hope that voter frustration with President Barack Obama's handling of health care and the economy will translate into electoral wins in the mid-term elections.
Republican Scott Brown's surprising victory in last month's Massachusetts special election has given the GOP hope of evening the odds in the Senate. Democrats control the chamber, 60-40, with the support of two independents. When Brown is sworn in next week, Democrats will hold the chamber by one less vote, effectively ending their supermajority in the chamber.
Coats was appointed to the Senate seat after Sen. Dan Quayle was elected vice president in 1988. Coats went on to win a special election to serve the rest of Quayle's unexpired term, as well as his own full six-year term. Coats chose to retire instead of run for re-election. Bayh won the seat in November 1998 and is seeking a third term.
The GOP source spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The former senator was ambassador to Germany from August 2001 to February 2005 in President George W. Bush's administration.
Before joining the Senate, Coats served in the House from 1981 to 1988. He is currently a senior policy adviser at King & Spalding.
"Howey Politics Indiana" first reported Coats' candidacy late Tuesday.