Sen. Evan Bayh, an Indiana Democrat prominently mentioned in connection with the White House in recent years, is ready to announce he won't seek re-election, saying he's fed up with Congress.
"To put it in the words most Hoosiers can understand: 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 said in comments prepared for an announcement later Monday in Indianapolis. His statement was obtained by The Associated Press from a Democratic official who declined to be named publicly.
Bayh's departure continues a recent exodus from Congress among both Democrats and Republicans, including veteran Democrats Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Patrick Kennedy of Mass. The announcements have sprung up in rapid-fire fashion amid polls showing a rising anti-incumbent fervor and voter anger over Washington partisanship, high unemployment, federal deficits and lucrative banking industry bonuses.
Sen. Evan Bayh's exit gives Republicans a prime pick-up opportunity. Former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats (R) is running for the seat. Bayh was leading Coats by 20 points (55% to 35%) in a recent Research 2000/DailyKos poll.
Republicans now have Senate pick-up opportunities in at least eight states -- Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, and North Dakota.
To take back control of the Senate, Republicans will need to gain a net of 10 seats.
Democrats have pick-up opportunities in at least three states -- New Hampshire, Ohio, and Missouri.
Democrats have been hammering Coats for his residence, his lobbying and more. And a Democratic official says Bayh was ahead.
"They polled last week and were way ahead of Coats," the official said, adding that petitions were due tomorrow and the Bayh campaign's "were all done."
The decision "must have been a last minute, personal decision."
As for who could run to replace Bayh, look to Reps. Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill. Democrats are working to convince either -- both of whom represent swing districts in the Southern part of the state. Ellsworth, the former Vanderburgh County sherriff, is seen by some observers as, potentially, the strongest Democratic candidate. Hill is a former Indiana high school basketball star.
Also, look to see if Rep. Mike Pence on the Republican side reverses course and decides to jump into the race now.