Monday, February 15, 2010

Breaking: Evan Bayh will not seek re-election

Fox News is reporting that Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) will not seek re-election this year:
Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh will not seek re-election this November, an unexpected decision that hands Republicans an opportunity for a pick-up in a year when Democrats are already defending several open Senate seats.

The two-term senator is known as a moderate Democrat. Former GOP Sen. Dan Coats had been planning to challenge Bayh in November -- but a senior Democratic source told Fox News that recent polling showed Bayh way ahead of Coats, and that the retirement must have been a personal decision.

Bayh's staff said the latest polling showed Bayh ahead of Coats by 20 points.
In recent weeks, Bayh had become increasingly critical of the Democratic leadership, and was one of only three Democrats to vote against the end-of-year spending bill his party's leadership steered through Congress in December.  After the vote, he issued a blunt statement calling on the President to veto it, and castigating his party:
"Washington is totally out of touch with mainstream America." [snip]

“At a time when families and businesses are struggling to make ends meet, for Washington to increase federal spending at four times the rate of inflation is just irresponsible. And to have 5,000 pork barrel earmark appropriations in there, with politicians showing no willingness to cut back at a time when ordinary folks must—well, that is just deeply wrong.

“Voting against this kind of spending, voting for fiscal responsibility, and voting against pork barrel earmarks was the right thing to do. I am going to continue to stand up against the powers that be in Congress and make the case that it is past time to get our fiscal house in order.”
Keep in mind, this was well before Republican Scott Brown pulled off the historic upset in the Massachusetts senate race.  On the day of that special election Bayh extended his remarks to ABC news:
Even before the votes are counted, Senator Evan Bayh is warning fellow Democrats that ignoring the lessons of the Massachusetts Senate race will “lead to even further catastrophe” for their party.

“There’s going to be a tendency on the part of our people to be in denial about all this,” Bayh told ABC News, but “if you lose Massachusetts and that’s not a wake-up call, there’s no hope of waking up.”

What is the lesson of Massachusetts – where Democrats face the prospects of losing a Senate seat they’ve held since 1952? For Senator Bayh the lesson is that the party pushed an agenda that is too far to the left, alienating moderate and independent voters.

“It’s why moderates and independents even in a state as Democratic as Massachusetts just aren’t buying our message,” he said. “They just don’t believe the answers we are currently proposing are solving their problems. That’s something that has to be corrected.”

Bayh pointed that it’s not just Massachusetts. Independents also rejected Democratic gubernatorial candidates in New Jersey and Virginia in November.

“The only we are able to govern successfully in this country is by liberals and progressives making common cause with independents and moderates,” Bayh said. “Whenever you have just the furthest left elements of the Dem party attempting to impose their will on the rest of the country -- that’s not going to work too well.”
Some of the talking heads are already speculating that Bayh is planning a run against President Obama in 2012.  In my view, Bayh is just a moderate who has reached the breaking point in his frustration and disgust with the policies and tactics of his party.

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