Breaking: Evan Bayh set to retire from Senate

Via WaPo’s The Fix blog:

Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh will not seek re-election this year, a decision that hands Republicans a prime pickup opportunity in the middle of the country.

“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.

Bayh will announce the decision at a press conference later today. He was first elected to the Senate in 1998 and was re-elected easily in 2004. National Republicans had recruited former Sen. Dan Coats to challenge Bayh in 2010 although polling suggested Bayh began the race with a 20-point edge. He also had $13 million in the bank at the end of the year.

The Democrats had/have already began their smear campaign of Coats, which Politico documented here last week. But Bayh’s unexpected announcement has surprised the party, and now they’ll be in the position of trying to find someone (Update: within 4 days?!) to run against Coats in the fall election, assuming he gets the GOP nod in the primary.

Stay tuned …

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