Sen. Evan Bayh will not run for re-election, a decision that will shock
Democrats and Republicans alike in Indiana.
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.
Only days ago, Bayh’s staff, close associates and Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker, who was manager of Bayh’s re-election campaign, had assured an Indianapolis Star reporter that he would definitely seek a third term in the U.S. Senate. And Democrats recently released a poll showing Bayh easily ahead of both former Sen. Dan Coats and former U.S. Rep. John Hostettler, two of the four Republicans seeking the GOP nomination.
But in his statement, Bayh cited recent stalemates in Congress.
“Two weeks ago, the Senate voted down a bipartisan commission to deal with one of the greatest threats facing our nation: our exploding deficits and debt. The measure would have passed, but seven members who had endorsed the idea instead voted ‘no’ for short-term political reasons,” he said. “Just last week, a major piece of legislation to create jobs — the public’s top priority — fell apart amid complaints from both the left and right. All of this and much more has led me to believe that there are better ways to serve my fellow citizens, my beloved state and our nation than continued service in Congress.”
The decision ends one of the brightest political careers by Indiana Democrat, at least for now.
Bayh, the son of former U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh, had been the nation’s youngest governor when he first won Indiana’s chief executive job at age 33 in 1988, and was frequently mentioned as a possibility for vice president, and was on President Barack Obama’s list of only three finalists before Obama settled on former Sen. Joe Biden. Bayh also considered running for president himself, launching an exploratory effort in 2006 for the 2008 Democratic Party nomination before dropping the effort only a couple weeks later.