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Senator Evan Bayh Calls it Quits After Two Terms Representing Indiana

One day before the filing deadline for the Democratic primary, Evan Bayh surprised Indiana voters by announcing that he would not seek reelection to another term representing them in the Senate. Bayh is one of the most respected figures in the Senate who also served as Indiana’s governor and was a presidential contender in 2008.

Bayh has held his seat for only two terms, a seat which his father also held for three terms. In that time he made a significant mark in the Senate, taking the lead on important legislation in education and environmental regulation and playing an key role as a moderate on the Armed Services Committee.

In announcing his decision, Bayh complained of frustration with partisan gridlock in Washington. Bayh may also have been motivated by the prospect of a very challenging and contentious race for reelection in a state where Republicans have become increasingly ascendant. Bayh’s personal popularity and moderate views might have won the day, but with him gone any other Democrat may have little chance against likely Republican nominee Dan Coats who held the office before Bayh won it in 1998.

Some have speculated that Bayh’s goal has always been the presidency and that he realized that being associated with the increasingly unpopular Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration would work against him and that it would be smarter to run as a seasoned outsider in the 2012 or 2016 presidential election.

Bayh’s future plans remain unclear, but at today’s announcement he commented:

“There are better ways to serve my fellow citizens…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.”

An understandable view from a moderate increasingly at odds with the polarized politics of both left and right.

About Dave Nalle

  • Baritone

    My opinion of Bayh has dropped in recent months as it became very clear that he was not in Obama’s camp on much of anything coming out of the White House. However, much of the speculation here as regards his reasons for quitting and the timing of it are just that: speculations. The notion that the timing was set up precisely to circumvent the primaries is hardly knowable. And the fact is, Bayh’s retirement has more than likely handed the seat to the Republicans, so I wouldn’t make too much of the timing. It will likely be a moot point.

    I certainly don’t see Bayh as a viable candidate for President. Bayh is to politics as taupe is to the colorwheel. He is about as flamboyant as ’64 Chevy II.

    While pretty much ALL of you continue to completely write off Obama, I just want to remind you that you could just be a bit premature. I know many of you revel in the prospect of his 1 term demise, but the fat lady hasn’t even taken the stage at this point. Dont’ count your chickens.

    While there may be a strong “draft Hillary” contingent out there, I frankly doubt that she’ll be tempted. When it comes down to it, she now has, perhaps the best (and hardest) job in government. I sincerely doubt that she’d have any interest in being Obama’s or anyone’s VEEP. As to her running for President again, she might, but it’s hard to imagine that she would put herself through that particular ringer again. She would have great difficulty separating herself from the Obama administration. The Reps – and even other Dems – would likely rub her face in it. Ya’ll d love that, now wouldn’t ya?

    Nevertheless, I think that is an unlikely scenario. Even assuming substantial Democratic losses in November, given much of our presidential political history, it’s highly likely that Obama will be riding much higher come the 2012 campaign.

    If Obama does falter, I’ll put my support behind the big New York Weiner!


  • Dave Nalle

    Wow, Silas. Nice to see you’re trying a BTR show. I’ll call in if I can get free.

    As for Bayh, as the only person here who knows him personally (albeit quite a fire years ago), I have confidence that he is entirely honest in his reasons for quitting. I think he feels the system is failing the people, but as a Democrat he has nowhere to go but out of politics.

    The good news is that the GOP is putting up some really outstanding candidates for his spot. Strong, libertarian-leaning Republicans. Even Dan Coats is well above average for a Republican politician. So the people of Indiana will be well served.


  • roger nowosielski

    At least we’re in agreement on this one, Dave – Bayh, that is. I don’t know about replacements.

    My sentiment is – every honorable person should follow Bayh’s lead and wash their hands of politics.

    Let the scoundrels take over. We wouldn’t see much of a difference anyway, and perhaps it might energize the country to wipe the slate clean.

    BTW, Silas did not extend me the invitation. I don’t blame him, of course, for not wanting to be outshined.

  • Dave Nalle

    He didn’t technically invite me either, but I don’t stand on ceremony.


  • Clavos

    Ever since Eisenhower, Americans have resolutely and consistently insisted on electing presidents whose names they could spell…

    Damn, I sure hope you’re wrong on that score, Doc.

    Otherwise, given the sorry, ever-deteriorating state of American education, we’ll soon be electing candidates named Dick, Jane and Spot.

  • STM


  • John Lake

    roger nowosielski:
    My position is that the system has outlived its ability to respond to the electorate
    I view that as an understatement. The Supreme Court as I have written has an un-ending capacity to do the wrong thing, on the premise that it might be right.
    When they continue to allow special interest
    lobbyists, and when they promote and support unlimited contributions from American corporations, who are not “speaking their minds”, but rather are working from a profit motive, they are condemning the American people to a new level of “unresponsiveness”.
    Consider too that although Americans are being constantly polled as to their opinions, one would be naive indeed not to understant the vast, near absolute extent to which their opinions are influenced by media outlets.
    If the Supreme Court were to have any real courage, they might search for a framework to address the need for either outlawing special interest groups who pose as legitimate media, or failing that, at least they might comment on the potential value of “transparency and accountability” regarding the funding of such outlets.

  • roger nowosielski

    Well, you see John. The way I view the recent SCOTUS decision is that they upheld the letter of the law – freedom of (political) speech on behalf of any aggregate of individuals (though that would be stretching the term when applied to corporations) and are therefore constitutionally “correct.” But the decision ignores the harsh reality.

    In effect, it turns powerful business interests as virtually determining the outcome of the electoral process. It’s akin to institutional funds determining the movement of the markets, so much so that the individual investor (just like the individual voter) has virtually no say.

    So while legally or constitutionally “correct” – which is to say, in terms of the internal logic – the decision undermines the very system and process that SCOTUS is supposed to uphold.

    I posted a similar comment on Dan (Miller’s) recent thread on the SCOTUS decision – our resident lawyer here – but of course there was no response. Not that I expected one.

  • Baronius

    “Are congressional Republicans who have announced their retirement cowards as well?”

    Bar, fair question. I’ve only really followed the Senate. There are 11 retirements; three of those were placeholder Senators. Of the eight career politicians retiring, 3 are Dems and 5 are Reps. Dorgan and Dodd seem to be getting out while the gettin’s good. I’d include Beau Biden not running on that list. Bayh’s retirement is tough to interpret.

    Of the Republicans, Gregg and Voinovich both announced their retirements at the lowest point of their party’s fortunes, so yes, cowardice might be the right word. Bond is 71, Bunning is being forced out by the party, and Brownback is term-limiting himself (and probably running for president in 2012). They have reasons I can accept.

    Personally, I’d expected bigger things from Gregg, and I don’t care for Brownback at all.

  • Silas Kain

    Dave, hope you stop by! Insofar as Dan Coats, what about his exodus from Indiana for 10 years? Perhaps he is a good candidate, but what has he done in the interim that makes him stand out ads a stellar one? Didn’t he work for lobbyists?

  • Dr Dreadful

    Clav: given the sorry, ever-deteriorating state of American education, we’ll soon be electing candidates named Dick, Jane and Spot.

    Stan: Kev.

    Good point. Australian politicians do always seem to have down-to-earth, matey names like Reg, Bob, Mike and Alf.

    Americans would struggle with a President Rudd, though. They wouldn’t know how many Ds to put.

  • roger nowosielski

    Jack looks like a safe bet. It’s Everymen.

    And so is Dick, in more ways than one.

  • Silas Kain

    Roger!!! BTW, Silas did not extend me the invitation. I don’t blame him, of course, for not wanting to be outshined.

    I didn’t think I needed to extend an invitation. I just figured you’d come if you were so inclined. After all, an oral banter with you would be quite entertaining for Cindy!

  • roger nowosielski

    Well, forgive me, but I’m very sensitive about such matters. Like a woman, you might say.

  • Silas Kain

    Oh, Lord, Roger! So many directions, so little time! Off to do some work, I shall return later.

  • Cindy

    Roger’s a steel magnolia too. ;-)

  • roger nowosielski

    Now you’ve both blown my cover.

  • roger nowosielski

    At least he didn’t call me a queen.

  • Dan(Miller)

    Roger, re Comment #58 — Your comment on the SCOTUS thread was # 116, dated 28 January. There, you noted unnecessarily that you had not yet read the opinion. I nevertheless responded (as I had to your other comments there) to most of that comment in # 125 of the same date, even though a reading of the Court’s opinion would have served as well. I did not then, nor do I now, understand what you may mean by the analogy to “institutional funds determining the movement of the markets.”

    If you have not yet done so, I still recommend that you read the decision.


  • roger nowosielski

    The analogy is rather indirect, DM, but it pertains nonetheless. True, the corporations and other aggregates (such as unions, for example) do not directly vote for the candidates, so in this particular respect the analogy does not apply. But where it does apply is in the manner that the outcome of the electoral process is being influenced by big money. (I understand of course that it works both ways, but the dynamics is the same.)

    Not that it has anything to do with my argument, but you might refer to the latest public opinion poll on the SCOTUS decision:

    Left and right united in opposition to controversial SCOTUS decision.

  • roger nowosielski

    It’s not a perfect analogy, DM, and I’m not happy with it, but I can’t think of any better.

    The ideal solution, IMO, would of course be to limit campaign expenditures to a set figure, equally much.

    My main beef, I suppose, is that there is too much money influencing the elections. It’s too much of a show business and we could do without all the pizzazz.

  • Silas Kain

    Roger? Have you ever seen Torch Song Trilogy? Harvey Fierstein’s alter-ego is a character named Virginia Hamm. I’ve decided you are Virginia Hamm trapped in a straight white boy’s body.

    Roger’s a steel magnolia too. ;-)

    A platinum pansy, perhaps?

  • roger nowosielski

    Whatever feeds your fantasy, Silas.

  • pablo

    43 and 45 Zingzing,

    First you link to a nazi denegrating Mr. Paul. Another more accurate description would be smear.

    Then you disavow very mildly your reference, how cute!

  • Silas Kain

    Feed me, Seymour.

  • zingzing

    it is what it is, pablo. what i think is most damning about it is that the white supremacists want to delete the thread so that people don’t get the idea that they support him. what that has to do with paul’s point of view, i don’t know, although there have been rumors of some fairly racy (ha) stuff in the newsletters he at least had someone ghostwrite in his name.

  • pablo


    Your smear speaks for itself.

  • zingzing

    don’t blame me for what’s out there. i didn’t make it. but nice try, spanky.