Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh announced today that will not seek a third term — a huge blow to Democrats and an opportunity for Republicans to pick up another Senate seat in 2010.
“There are better ways to serve my fellow citizens,” Bayh said at a news conference this afternoon. “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, who served two terms as governor of Indiana, said he was concerned about the excessive partisanship in national politics.
Bayh gave glaring examples of where things have fallen apart — the failure of the deficit reduction commission after seven co-sponsors of the bill voted No [more on this below], and the failure of the bipartisan job creation bill that had Republican support but was torpedoed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Bayh, 54, said Congress is in “need of significant reform,” but he praised some of his colleagues, including his fellow senator from Indiana, Republican Dick Lugar.
President Obama released a statement this afternoon saying he looks forward to working with Bayh for the rest of the year and thanking him for “serving his fellow Hoosiers.”
From POLITICO (January 26, 2010):
Who would co-sponsor a bill, and then vote against it?
Six Republican senators would — almost the exact margin of defeat Tuesday for a plan endorsed by President Barack Obama that would have formed a task force on the deficit to try to force tough choices on Congress.
The idea, long championed by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), needed 60 votes to advance but got only 53.
Among those voting against it: Republicans Sam Brownback of Kansas, Mike Crapo of Idaho, John Ensign of Nevada, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, James Inhofe of Oklahoma and John McCain of Arizona.
A spokesperson for McCain, who supports the partial spending freeze Obama plans to announce in his State of the Union address, said the senator became convinced the commission would be “kind of a back door” to a tax increase, which he thinks would be “the worst thing that can happen now.”
A Brownback spokesperson said: “He removed his co-sponsorship last week over concerns that the commission will be able to raise taxes.”
A Crapo spokesperson said: “He removed his co-sponsorship several days ago after further review and consideration of the measure.:
A Hutchison spokesperson said: “She is no longer a co-sponsor, due to concerns that it would allow for tax increases, not focused on spending cuts.”
A seventh Republican, Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah, said through a spokesperson that he “supported the goal of the task force,” but “had concerns with the process and potential tax increases.”
Now back to Evy-poo. From TALKING POINTS MEMO:
Sen. Evan Bayh had already collected the 4,500 ballot-petition signatures needed to run in this year’s Indiana Democratic primary, and his last-minute decision not to run leaves the Indiana Democratic Party in the position of having to select its candidate itself. There probably isn’t a realistic way for anyone to gather the signatures needed by this week’s deadline.
A Democratic source told TPMDC that Bayh’s campaign did polling last week and found the senator was ahead of Republican Dan Coats, a candidate who just jumped in the race. Bayh had completed all the petitions for the race, which are due this week, the source said.
The petitions must be filed with the county clerk’s office by Tuesday. Then candidates have until Friday to file with the Secretary of State for the primary ballot. The lack of another Democrat will mean there is a vacancy, leaving it to the state party’s State Central Committee to choose a candidate at its June 30 meeting.
This means the Indiana Democrats would avoid holding a primary to choose who will be their nominee in the fall.
The Democratic source speculated Bayh’s choice seems like a personal decision that must have come at the last minute given all the legwork that had been done.
Bayh talked to President Obama this morning about his decision not to seek reelection, a source close to Obama told TPMDC.
The source says Obama and Bayh have had “several conversations” about 2010 and the senator made his personal decision this weekend.
“It is personal not at all political – he is by nature a Governor not a Senator,” the source said.