He has more than $12 million socked away for his re-election, no primary challenger, and a 20 point lead on his closest GOP adversary.
What does Senator Evan Bayh, retiring after two terms, know that we don't? Chris Cillizza:
ndiana 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, according to prepared remarks obtained by the Fix. He will make the decision formal at a press conference later today.
Bayh 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.
"My decision was not motivated by political concern," Bayh is expected to say. "Even in the current challenging environment, I am confident in my prospects for re-election."
Prior to being in the Senate, Bayh served two terms as governor of the Hoosier State. He also served briefly as Secretary of State.
His retirement is a blow for Senate Democrats who now must legitimately worry about the possibility -- although it remains a longshot today -- that they will lose control of the Senate in the fall.
Meanwhile, civil war is brewing in Indiana between establishment Republicans who want to back former senator Dan Coats and others who resent the RNC's interference in local politics:
When Indiana Republican National Committeeman James Bopp, a prominent Coats supporter, sent a late-night e-mail to a string of party officials linking to a news story detailing Coats's interest in the race, state committee member Barbara Knochel wrote back: "Please excuse my naivete, but why would Coats, who retired once, come back? What am I missing here?"
For some state and local Republicans, there is frustration caused by the perception that the Washington GOP establishment - particularly the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which helped to woo Coats and has played an active and public role in promoting and defending his candidacy - is intruding in Indiana politics. And the populist conservative grass roots in the tea party movement feels it most acutely.
One day after Coats announced his interest in the race, a Huntington, Ind., tea party group circulated an e-mail with the subject line, "NO to RNC/Coats for force feeding us this crap sandwich," while Emery McClendon, a Tea Party organizer, has distributed an e-mail to activists declaring that the push for a Coats candidacy "is the Republican Party's way of slapping we the people in the face ..."
A coalition of 10 state-based tea party groups, meanwhile, are set to launch the "Indiana Patriot Coalition," which will be taking part in an e-mail and phone call campaign directed toward the Indiana Republican Party and the Republican National Committee, asking Washington to stay out of state races.
Given all of these advantages, perhaps it's something else that is driving Bayh out of politics:
The two-term senator is known as a moderate Democrat. Former GOP Sen. Dan Coats had been planning to challenge Bayh in November -- but several Democratic sources said the decision appeared to personal, not political.
A senior Obama administration official said Bayh called President Obama Monday morning to discuss the decision and indicated the senator had been considering retirement for awhile.
"The president has had several conversations with Senator Bayh about 2010. Bayh made his final decision this weekend, and it is personal, not at all political," the official said. "He is by nature a governor -- not a senator."
Bayh is a former Indiana governor and secretary of state. One 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.
There were also hints from Bayh that he had tired of the poisonous partisanship on the hill - which plays into the notion that he is more temperamentally suited to executive jobs than legislative. He is also still a young man at age 54 and a respected voice in some Democratic party circles. His bent may take him toward a policy position or even a cabinet post.
Clearly, he did not relish the thought of a long, bruising campaign. But he might have made a decision sooner. Tomorrow is the deadline for candidates filing for the senate in Indiana and Democrats have been caught unawares. Indiana Democrats will almost certainly be able to choose a strong candidate either through the convention process, or have the choice devolve to the state committee. But not having Bayh at the top of the ticket is a blow.
As for GOP prospects in taking over the senate? A longshot getting shorter by the week. No less than 10 Democratic seats are now considered competitive. But the GOP has problems with open seats in several states and there is no guarantee they can hold on to all of them - a requirement if they were to realize the miracle of a senate takeover.
The Democratic meltdown continues...
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky, Rich Baehr