Shocker: Evan Bayh won’t seek Senate re-election

Posted on February 15, 2010

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In a move that has stunned many on both sides of the political aisle, Evan Bayh, Democratic Senator from Indiana, announced today that he would not seek re-election after serving for two terms in Washington. His announcement caught Democrats by surprise, as they must now scramble to find a suitable replacement candidate to face the likely Republican candidate Daniel Coats.

Bayh’s retirement comes on the heels of similar statements by Sens. Christopher Dodd and Byron Dorgan, and the departure of Bayh, seen by many as the representative of moderate Democrats, will further shake the resolve of incumbent Democrats wishing to be sent back to Congress.

Ed Morrissey notes that though Bayh was showing a tough battle against Coats in polls released since Coats’ announcement of his Senate run, he still had an impressive campaign war chest and credibility as a former governor and his family name. His recent vote for health care cost him, but not enough by itself to cost him his Senate seat.

Is it simply that Bayh is, as he stated, simply tired of dealing with the Senate? That’s probably part of the answer, and though it might be tempting to think that Bayh is dropping out because he’s afraid of getting massacred in a tough year for Democrats, the truth is that he probably would have still had a decent showing and possibly a close loss.

Regardless of his personal motivations, Bayh’s retirement will reinforce the notion that Democrats are facing one of the toughest mid-term election campaigns since 1994, and possibly even worse than that year. More importantly, the loss of Bayh will continue the Democratic Party’s steady march to the left – losing moderates like Bayh and Dorgan do little to convince the rest of the country that anyone who isn’t a progressive liberal has much of a place in the party. To be sure, it dramatically increases the chances for Republicans to claim his seat.

I wish Sen. Bayh well on his retirement. He seems like a decent man with whom I agree on some issues and disagree on certain others, but he doesn’t come across as a strident ideologue. Indeed, that lack of stridency is what angered many on the left, and this last-minute announcement that leaves the Democrats scrambling won’t help either.

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Posted in: News, Politics