Huge breaking news from the Race42012 blog:
Sen. Evan Bayh [D-IN], who had become a major target by the GOP heading into the midterm elections, will announce his retirement, handing the GOP a major pick-up opportunity. Bayh had drawn a brewing backlash due to his support for President Obama’s stimulus and healthcare bills. Recently, Bayh drew his first significant challenger in years in the form of former Indiana senator Dan Coats.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.”
“But running for the sake of winning an election, just to remain in public office, is not good enough,” Bayh said. “And it has never been what motivates me. At this time I simply believe I can best contribute to society in another way: creating jobs by helping grow a business, helping guide an institution of higher learning or helping run a worthy charitable endeavor.”
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 hat 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 state4 and our nation than continued service in Congress.”
This is huge news for a resurgent Republican Party and conservative movement. The magic number for a Republican majority in the Senate is getting closer and closer - already, the balance of power may switch, given the current political climate, with incumbent Democrat after incumbent Democrat down significant margins in polls against their Republican opponents.
Could we be looking at a political earthquake on the scale of the 1994 elections, or perhaps even greater?
UPDATE: Tom Jensen at Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning national polling group, says the following about the GOP's chances at taking the Senate.
"I can't believe I'm saying this but I really think Republicans have a chance to win back the Senate this fall now."This is going to be a very interesting election.
"Three months ago I would have said Republicans have about a 5% chance of taking back the Senate. Now I'd put it more in the one in three chance range, and rising by the week. And who knows when the bad news for Democrats will stop pouring in..."