Pence says he won’t run for Bayh’s Senate seat

Republican Indiana Congressman Mike Pence announced Tuesday that he will not run this year for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Evan Bayh, saying he wants to help Republicans win back control of the House.

Pence had been considering a run and a possible showdown with Bayh, who has twice easily won election to the Senate.

Several Republicans had encouraged Pence to run, especially given signs of a good midterm election year for Republicans. Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts recently won Edward Kennedy’s Senate seat in what has been a very Democratic state, and Republicans won gubernatorial races in November in Virginia and New Jersey.

But Pence, the third-ranking Republican in the House, said he is running for re-election to the seat representing much of eastern Indiana that he first won in 2000. He said he made his decision in part because he has been given responsibility to shape a GOP comeback as chairman of the House Republican Conference, the party’s caucus.

The House is now controlled by Democrats 256-178 with one vacancy.

"I am not going to leave my post when the fate of the House hangs in the balance," Pence wrote in a letter on his Facebook page.

"While the opportunity to serve in the United States Senate is significant, I believe the best chance this nation has to restore fiscal discipline, common sense and common values to Washington, D.C., is for conservatives to retake the House in 2010," the letter said.

House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Pence’s decision was good news for Republicans and bad news for Democrats.

"It sends an unmistakable signal that Republicans are intent on doing everything possible this year to end the Democratic monopoly in Washington, build a lasting majority, and renew the drive for smaller, more accountable government," Boehner said in a statement.

Those who have announced they will seek the Republican nomination for Bayh’s seat are former U.S. Rep. John Hostettler, state Sen. Marlin Stutzman of Howe, Richmond financial adviser Don Bates Jr. and Fishers businessman Richard Behney. The primary is May 4.

Bayh has not formally announced a re-election bid, but his office said he is definitely running. The senator was complimentary of Pence after his announcement, calling him a good person.

"We have a very good relationship," Bayh said. "I wish him well in his continued service in the House of Representatives."

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker said Tuesday that he respected Pence’s decision, and that Bayh had been an independent voice in the Senate for the people of Indiana.

"The senator looks forward to running a vigorous campaign no matter who his opponent is," Parker said.

Records show that Bayh had about $12.7 million in campaign cash at the end of September.

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