Monday, February 15, 2010

Bye Bayh

(Yes, I know I’m not the first blogger to use that title. I never said I was clever.) Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) is retiring from the Senate.

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.


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.

I am sure there will be more than a few Democrats who will retaliate with “So the solution to getting rid of partisan gridlock and too much narrow ideology is to go home. Okay, fine, be that way; good riddance” in an effort to cover up their shock at losing a pretty-sure re-election in Indiana.

Now the chances are very good that the seat will go to a Republican; Obama won Indiana by a very thin margin and the Hoosier State is historically a tipping-over-Red state anyway. This, after all, is the home of Dan Quayle (who beat Evan Bayh’s father, Birch Bayh, for re-election) and conspiracy whack-job Rep. Dan Burton, famous for shooting at melons to prove Hillary Clinton murdered Vince Foster.

There are a couple of things that are weird about this announcement. According to TPM, Mr. Bayh’s re-election campaign was up and running, he was raising a lot of money (I presume Mr. Bayh will send back all the money he’s raised), and his competition — so far — was former Sen. Dan Coats who has his own issues, including residency and being in deep with lobbyists. (Of course, if you’re a Republican, that’s a feature, not a bug.) The day for filing to run in the primary is Friday, February 19th, and no one else had planned on running in the primary. That means the Indiana Democratic Party chooses the candidate.

But it all comes down to wondering why he’s decided at this late date to pack up and go home. If he was really serious about doing something about Washington being broken, the way to fix it isn’t to bail out.