Indiana Dem Sen. Evan Bayh To Retire

Mark Murrmann/Newscom

In a big development for the 2010 elections, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), one of the key centrist Democrats in the Senate, will not seek re-election this year, a Democratic source confirms to TPMDC.

Bayh’s official reason is that he simply does not want to serve in the Senate anymore. “After all these years, my passion for service to my fellow citizens is undiminished, but my desire to do so in Congress has waned,” Bayh will say at a press conference, according to prepared remarks obtained by the Indianapolis Star.

“Even in the current challenging environment, I am confident in my prospects for re-election,” Bayh will also say. “But running for the sake of winning an election, just to remain in public office, is not good enough.”A Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll from last week had given Bayh, a two-term senator and former two-term governor, leads of 20 and 16 points respectively over two of Republican challengers, former Sen. Dan Coats and former Rep. John Hostettler.

So what next? Bayh’s state has historically been friendly to Republicans, but in 2008 ended up voting for Barack Obama by a margin of about one percent — after having previously voted for George W. Bush by a 21-point margin 2004. Republicans currently control all statewide offices and one chamber of the state legislature, as well as the mayor’s office in Indianapolis. On the other hand, Democrats currently have five out of nine of the state’s seats in the House of Representatives.

The bottom line: This seat will be a top-tier Senate race this year, and Bayh’s retirement has probably damaged the Dems’ chances of holding it.

Additional reporting by Christina Bellantoni.