Conservative Indiana Democratic Senator Evan Bayh has announced he will not run for re-election. The unexpected decision could hand Republicans a prime pickup opportunity in the mid-term elections, reports the Indianapolis Star.
"In prepared remarks, Bayh, 54, cited excessive partisanship that makes progress on public policy difficult to achieve as the motivation for his decision. 'After all these years, my passion for service to my fellow citizens is undiminished, but my desire to do so in Congress has waned,' he said. 'My decision was not motivated by political concern,' he added. 'Even in the current challenging environment, I am confident in my prospects for re-election.' Bayh had never lost an election, from his first win in 1986 as secretary of state, his wins for governor in 1988 and 1992 and his election to the U.S. Senate in 1998 and 2004. 'But running for the sake of winning an election, just to remain in public office, is not good enough,' Bayh said. 'And it has never been what motivates me. At this time I simply believe I can best contribute to society in another way: creating jobs by helping grow a business, helping guide an institution of higher learning or helping run a worthy charitable endeavor.'"
Bayh is leading in all the polls and has nearly $13 million in his campaign account.
The senator boasts a 89% Human Rights Campaign rating. Bayh supported the Hate Crimes Amendment but has refused to indicate if he would or would not support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Bayh has also been less-than-supportive of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Bayh, whose wife Valerie sits on the board of directotrs of Wellpoint, opposed most health care reform. Bayh's decision not to seek a third six-year term would be another blow to the Democrats, which since the start of the year lost veterans Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut to retirement and saw Republican Scott Brown win the Massachusetts Senate seat held for 47 years by Sen. Edward Kennedy.