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Fed up with Congress, Bayh will not run for third term

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Sen. Evan Bayh, a prominent Democrat and former Indiana governor, is ready to announce he will not seek re-election, a senior Democratic official said Monday.

Bayh scheduled a news conference for 2 p.m. at IUPUI's University Place Conference Center and Hotel.

"To put it in the words most Hoosiers can understand: I love working for the people of Indiana, I love helping our citizens make the most of their lives, but I do not love Congress," Bayh said in a statement prepared for the news conference and obtained by The Associated Press from a Democratic official.

"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," the statement read.

Bayh's decision to leave the Senate was confirmed by three Democratic officials who discussed his announcement on grounds of anonymity because it was still pending. Bayh, 54, informed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., of his plans in a telephone conversation Monday morning, according to one source.

Bayh's departure continues a recent exodus from Congress among both Democrats and Republicans, including veteran Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, amid polls showing a rising anti-incumbent fervor in an electorate angry over high unemployment, mounting federal deficits and lucrative banking industry bonuses.

Officials at Bayh's offices in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C., could not be reached Monday morning because of the Presidents' Day holiday.

Citing the statement, which was not made available to all media, The Indianapolis Star reported that Bayh was discouraged by excessive partisanship, not his chances at the polls. "My decision was not motivated by political concern," his statement reportedly read. "Even in the current challenging environment, I am confident in my prospects for re-election."

Earlier this month, former GOP Sen. Dan Coats announced plans to challenge Bayh in November. Republicans believed Bayh could be vulnerable in the race given his support of President Obama's agenda, including health care reform and the economic stimulus.

But political news site Politico.com reported Friday that Bayh led Coats by 20 percentage points in a poll released last week.

Bayh replaced Coats in the Senate when Coats decided not to seek re-election in 1998.

Democrats will have to scramble to find a replacement candidate for Bayh's seat. Friday is the filing deadline for the May primary, although the party would have until June 30 to select a replacement candidate.

Bayh's name was among a handful of well-known Democrats prominently mentioned as possible vice presidential candidates in both Sen. John Kerry's 2004 run for the presidency and President Barack Obama's campaign last year. He was believed to have been on Obama's final list before then-Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware was selected.

Bayh served two terms as Indiana's governor before winning the first of his two Senate terms in 1998. He had until recent weeks been regarded as a near certainty for re-election, having raised nearly $13 million for his campaign and facing little-known Republican opposition until national Republicans recruited Coats to enter the race.

Bayh's name was already well known when he first ran for political office in 1986, winning the race for Indiana secretary of state that year. His father, Birch, won the first of three terms in the U.S. Senate in 1962 and was an unabashed Great Society liberal.

The younger Bayh ran for governor in 1988 on a platform of fiscal responsibility, reducing what he considered to be a bloated government bureaucracy and opposing tax increases.

His wife, Susan, an attorney, is on the board of directors for six public companies, including health insurer WellPoint Inc. and broadcaster Emmis Communications Corp.

Both firms are in industries heavily regulated by the federal government. Critics have questioned whether she should serve in such roles, saying they create conflicts of interest for her husband.


This story will be updated here.
 

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  • VP of Govt Relations @ Wellpoint
    My guess is that Evan Bayh will be the next VP of Govt Relations at Wellpoint -- no, make that Senior VP of Govt Relations. Lord knows that Wellpoint needs help, and I hear that Evan knows someone on the Board. Or if that does not work out, perhaps Bart might find him a job at Lilly.
  • Governor Bayh
    He's back ... How does Governor Bayh sound again??
  • position
    These will be hard shoes to fill.

    The Senate has now lost one of its most vocal proponents of...well, I mean, one of its most vocal opponents of...hmm...well...that is...based on the record...

    On the other hand, maybe there's not much in those shoes after all.
  • Typical
    and apparently, he "do not love" Indiana, since a departure announcement at this late date leaves us with no decent Dem. options. Thanks for Nothing, EB.
  • Bye Bayh
    My moral dilemma is over. As a diehard democrat, I had decided not to vote for Bayh this fall. I think he is a lightweight, who is more concerned with Evan than with the citizens of Indiana. Secondly, I think he is lazy and did not want to work hard to get elected. Thirdly, he is too conservatives for my likes. If the republicans win in November, so be it. I for one will not shed a tear for Mr. Bayh.
    • Allure of the call
      Perhaps the Senator has heard the siren call of special interest money and is willing to give up working for Hoosiers and instead pocket big heaps of money from special interest groups. Maybe him and Coats will trade places.
    • Reactive
      The good Senator may be a fine person, husband and dad; but, he's been one of the most reactive politicians we could have chosen.

      What's he done? Where is his passion? The only things in which he believes strongly are not making waves and not voicing strong opinions on important issues.

      He can now return to his Wellpoint-furnished home where he never found it appropriate to campaign for Indiana's working uninsured.

      Sorry, but this is good news for Indiana and the nation.
    • Reactive
      The good Senator may be a fine person, husband and dad; but, he's been one of the most reactive politicians we could have chosen.

      What's he done? Where is his passion? The only things in which he believes strongly are not making waves and not voicing strong opinions on important issues.

      He can now return to his Wellpoint-furnished home where he never found it appropriate to campaign for Indiana's working uninsured.

      Sorry, but this is good news for Indiana and the nation.
    • Before you go
      Could you please put the hammer to the nails in Tim Durham's coffin?

      Get him prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, Evan--that will the best thing for Marion County you have ever done.

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