HotLine On Call:
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) will not seek a 3rd term in the Senate next year, according to a Dem source, handing Dems yet another setback as they struggle to salvage their damaged ship.
Bayh, elected statewide 5 times, will become the 5th Senate Dem not to seek another term. His decision to step aside creates an open seat in IN, a usually-red state that broke the mold in '08 by voting narrowly for Pres. Obama.
Last week, ex-Sen. Dan Coats (R), who held Bayh's seat before retiring in '98, announced he would run for the seat. Ex-Rep. John Hostettler (R) had already announced his own candidacy.
A recent poll taken for the liberal DailyKos website showed Bayh easily beating both Coats and Hostettler. And Bayh ended the year with $13M in the bank, far ahead of any potential challengers.
Bayh's decision will set Dems scrambling for a replacement. The deadline to file to reach the ballot is Friday, meaning any Dem considering running for the seat must make a decision quickly.
"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," Bayh will say, according to prepared remarks obtained by the Fix. He will make the decision formal at a press conference later today.
In his statement, Bayh cited the lack of bipartisan comity as one of the main reasons for the decision. "There is too much partisanship and not enough progress -- too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving," Bayh will say. "Even at a time of enormous challenge, the peoples' business is not being done." He specifically cited the recent vote that killed the creation of a debt commission as evidence of the partisan gridlock.
This late announcement puts Democratic leaders in a bind to rush to replace Bayh on the ballots.