Key Senate ConservaDem to Retire

Monday, February 15, 2010

Posted by The Green Miles

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) won't seek re-election:
"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.
Bayh's retirement certainly comes as a surprise. Josh Marshall at TPM reports Bayh's Senate & campaign staffs had no idea his retirement was coming and Josh seems to think there may be another shoe to drop. We'll see.

Will Democrats miss Bayh? On the one hand, with the GOP filibustering virtually every vote, Democrats need every member they can get. On the other hand, Bayh has been rated the Senate's 2nd-most-conservative Democrat (behind Ben Nelson) and refused to take tough stands on any controversial issue. He was also a frequent critic of fellow Democrats -- even his retirement statement is a backhand at Democrats for not doing whatever Republicans want. Let's remember that it was a unified Republican blockade that killed the debt commission, not "partisan gridlock."

While Bayh's retirement is sure to fuel the Beltway media's "GOP wave" meme, let's remember that in June 2006, Mark Halperin, then ABC's political unit director, warned, "If I were [Democrats], I'd be scared to death about November's elections." Five months later, Democrats picked up 7 seats in the Senate and 32 seats in the House. And as The Hill's Mike O'Brien points out, "5 Dem sens retiring in 2010: Dodd, Bayh, Kaufman, Burris, and Dorgan. 6 GOP retiring: LeMieux, Brownback, Bunning, Bond, Gregg, & Voinovich."