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Tilting at Windmills

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February 15, 2010

BAYH TO RETIRE.... A huge surprise out of Indiana this morning, which will make the 2010 midterms that much more challenging for the Democratic majority.

Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh will not seek re-election this year, a decision that hands Republicans a prime pickup opportunity in the middle of the country.

"After all these years, my passion for service to my fellow citizens is undiminished, but my desire to do so by serving in Congress has waned," Bayh will say.

Like Sen. Byron Dorgan's (D-N.D.) announcement in January, Bayh's retirement comes completely out of the blue. The incumbent Hoosier had already raised $13 million for his re-election campaign, and while Republicans thought Bayh might be vulnerable this year, recent polls showed him with seemingly insurmountable leads over his GOP challengers. Indeed, less than a year ago, the National Republican Senatorial Committee conceded that it fully expected Bayh to run and win a third term.

Bayh's retirement gives Republicans yet another pick-up opportunity in a traditionally "red" state, but it's probably a stretch to call it a GOP lock, at least at this point. The Republican field is, after all, led by Dan Coats -- an inside-the-Beltway corporate lobbyist who hasn't lived in Indiana for a decade.

As for the possible Democratic field, it's hard to speculate who might consider a campaign -- there have been no rumors since no one seemed to have any idea that Bayh was even considering retiring. That said, Indiana's congressional delegation does include five Democrats: Reps. Peter Visclosky, Joe Donnelly, Andre Carson, Brad Ellsworth, and Baron Hill.

It will also be interesting to see if Bayh changes his approach now that he need not worry about re-election. Bayh has, after all, been an exasperating "moderate" at times. Will this decision free him up to be a more reliable vote on key issues? Time will tell.

And for those keeping score, there are now six Republican Senate incumbents who have decided not to seek re-election, and three Senate Dems. Expect the media to characterize this as a mass Democratic exodus.

Steve Benen 10:55 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Comments

Can’t say I’m sad about Bayh. He is dishonest and corrupt, and drug down any attempts to do anything good. Not that they will, but maybe the Dems can act like a majority party now.

Posted by: Dems lose huge in 2010 on February 15, 2010 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

He's apparently going to cite excessive Partisanship that produces no results as the reason.

Richard Wolffe is saying he had a strong poll advantage even though he's been accused of politicking for his own state and asking self-serving questions as he did in the last televised conference with Dems and Obama.

Posted by: Insanity on February 15, 2010 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Joe Sudbay at Americablog:
Bayh may have really screwed the Democrats here. I just looked up the filing requirements for Senate primary candidates in Indiana. The CAN-4 form, which can be located here, is titled, INDIANA PETITION FOR PRIMARY BALLOT PLACEMENT AS A CANDIDATE FOR UNITED STATES SENATOR, states:

This petition must be filed with the appropriate county voter registration office for processing beginning January 4, 2010, and no later than NOON, February 16, 2010.
http://www.americablog.com/2010/02/senator-evan-bayh-d-in-not-running-for.html

Posted by: wvng on February 15, 2010 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

I bet this has something to do with the 3 billion quarterly profit that his wife's employer, WellPoint, benefited from.

Posted by: coral on February 15, 2010 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Somebody already beat me to it: There is a one word answer, and it is "WellPoint."

As a U.S. senator Bayh simply can't reconcile his material interests with those of his constituents, and has now chosen which is the most important.

Posted by: Barbara on February 15, 2010 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Steve! You missed an easy headline!

"Bye-bye Bayh"

That said, good riddance. Too bad they can't go after him for all of that campaign money he raised...

Posted by: Gridlock on February 15, 2010 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

And to think this prick was on the short list to be Obama's running mate. What a loser.

Posted by: Basilisc on February 15, 2010 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

This smells of a primary run against Obama in 2012. He has always been a prima donna. I honestly believe he thinks he can win a primary. Good luck with that.

Posted by: Polly Briley on February 15, 2010 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Bayh never was a true Democrat or a reliable vote. God riddance. Hopefully one of the more Progressive members of the Indiana Congressional delegation will decide today and file paperwork tomorrow to run. Thanks for nothing Evan....literally...Wellpoint probably hung a few million in front of his nose" for some "consulting gig" and he just could not resist. Watch him vote like the true Republican that he is for the rest of the year....Next!

Posted by: Nick R. on February 15, 2010 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Barbara and Coral have said exactly what my thoughts were. Bayh has made the decision that he would fare far better by seeing to it that his moneyed interest are protected rather than work to insure the people who vote for him get a chance to get ahead. Good riddance.

PS.
Good on you, Steve, for the "time will tell" statement.

Posted by: Clifton on February 15, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

This is a serious blow against the Democratic party and any hopes of passing a Progressive agenda.

Posted by: Ed Whitson on February 15, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Don't let the door hit your posterior on the way out, you spineless piece of something I try to avoid stepping in out on the sidewalk.

How Birch Bayh had such a worthless offspring is amazing - there's all the proof you need that character and integrity are not in DNA.

With this move, Bayh's wife can make even more money from Big Pharma as she works to kill health care reform.

Anyone who thinks he will ever "do the right thing" now that he's "free" probably believes in the tooth fairy and still expects Santa Claus to leave presents.

Posted by: TCinLA on February 15, 2010 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Not to be a "purist," but isn't Bayh a pretty conservative Dem who is not a reliable vote? I hate to lose a Dem, but I'm not sad to see this one go.

Posted by: tomb on February 15, 2010 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

This may sound crazy, but it ain't no lie!

Posted by: doubtful on February 15, 2010 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Gutless. Quitter. Quits.

Good.

Posted by: LosGatosCA on February 15, 2010 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK
Will this decision free him up to be a more reliable vote on key issues? Time will tell.

For whose side ??

The prick could have announced last month instead of screwing his party.

Posted by: cwolf on February 15, 2010 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

the obama/reid strategy of ruining HCR to placate DINOs like bayh seems to be working out well.

Posted by: pluege on February 15, 2010 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

As a U.S. senator Bayh simply can't reconcile his material interests with those of his constituents, and has now chosen which is the most important.
Posted by: Barbara on February 15, 2010 at 11:14 AM

this makes no sense since bayh was never interested in his constituents and always interested in his personal promotion and aggrandizement. No doubt he'll make more now privately lobbying Congress for the same corporate interests he fought so hard for while in Congress and against the interests of his constituents.

bayh would NEVER make an ethically correct decision - wouldn't even know what you talking about. He is true blue republican.

Posted by: pluege on February 15, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Gee.....the Dems are dropping like flies.

Posted by: Mark on February 15, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Three Democrats retiring? I count five: Bayh, Kaufman, Dorgan, Dodd and Burris.

Posted by: martin kroft on February 15, 2010 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Oh. I see. "Decided to seek re-election."

Posted by: martin kroft on February 15, 2010 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I think Steve has, after all, made a mistake. If the criteria "decided not to seek re-election" is intended to leave out those who were appointed (and therefore never elected, hence no "re-election"), then it's five Republicans (Bunning, Bond, Gregg, Voinovich & Brownback) and three Democrats (Dodd, Dorgan and Bayh).

Or if we're talking retirements, it's six Republicans (add Lemieux) and five Democrats (add Burris and Kaufman).

I don't think there is any consistent criteria by which one can come with, as Steve has, "six Republican Senate incumbents who have decided not to seek re-election, and three Senate Dems."

Posted by: martin kroft on February 15, 2010 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

K.B. Hutchison? Is that the missing link? It can't be. She hasn't retired yet, and she very well may not.

Posted by: martin kroft on February 15, 2010 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

From the desk of Evan Bayh:

It is with a lack of regret that I announced my decision to not seek reelection to the U.S. Senate.

However, Wellpoint has assured my wife Susan & I that she will be able to continue her directorship there for several more years and that the $6M she has already received from them over the last 6 years will at least be doubled. Of course, it is not as a reward for my efforts in suborning meaningful health care reform.

The other 6 health care related corporations that Susan is a director for have also assured us that she will be allowed to continue receiving income from them for several years.

Our financial advisors have also provided assurances that they have found loopholes that will allow us to convert most of the $13+M in 'campaign contributions' that I have accumulated into family assets.

As our family wealth has been assured and as it is no longer fun being a corporately owned whore, I do not feel the need to run for reelection again and can turn the senate seat over to someone who does not have to pretend to be a demoncrat!

F*ck you very much and good-bayh...

Posted by: Evan 'I gotta go' Bayh on February 15, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

OK, I'm not from Indiana, but doesn't announcing his retirement actually free up Bayh to back health care reform through this session?

Posted by: beejeez on February 15, 2010 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

It doesn't free him up if he intends to bolster centrist credentials for future runs. He's no Dorgan or Dodd--he still has a political career if he wants one.

Posted by: martin kroft on February 15, 2010 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

What everyone seems blind to is that, if this is political at all, it's to set himself up for another gubernatorial run, which if obama continues this current course, doesn't preclude that he might still be a vp/presidential candidate sometime.

Posted by: joshua on February 15, 2010 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Onward to his new lobbyist job from his corporate handlers. What a guy. Another multimillionaire senator says thanks for the donations.

Posted by: bjobotts on February 15, 2010 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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