The junior senator from Indiana, Evan Bayh, has announced he won’t run for a third term this year. He doesn’t really need the work, having descended from a prominent political family and possessing a wife who is well-compensated for serving on the board of health insurer WellPoint. (“If you truly love Evan Bayh, SET HIM FREE,” tweets pourmecoffee. “If he comes back, it’ll be to lobby for Wellpoint.”)
Unlike other prominent Democrats like Chris Dodd who have recently bailed out of politics, Bayh seemed a fair bet to win his 2010 race. A recent poll showed him with a big lead over GOP contenders, though previous polls had not been so encouraging.
Bayh says he’s sick of the partisan atmosphere in Washington, and cites the recent failure of the jobs bill as a sort of last straw. “All of this and much more,” he said, “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.” Observers seem to take him at his word, though it may be that Bayh, a moderate panicked by the Scott Brown victory in Massachusetts, may have decided to get out of the way of an anticipated GOP deluge that would make his job even more noisome even if Democrats retain a majority.
Anyway he’s still a reasonably young man and can always come back — as former Republican senator Dan Coats has done this year to challenge for the seat.
Former GOP congressman John Hostettler is also interested in the job. Democrats will have to scramble to find a champion now.
Update: Ha, Dave Weigel: “Has Harold Ford ever seen Indianapolis from a helicopter?”