As you've probably heard by now, Sen. Evan Bayh held a press conference today and announced that he is not seeking re-election this year, effectively retiring from the US Senate. Bayh made the announcement at IUPUI in downtown Indianapolis, though his prepared remarks were made available to news outlets in advance.
The long-time politician claims he is simply burnt-out on politics and now seeks a less-partisan career path.
"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 said.
His speech continued:
"For some time, I have had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should. There is too much partisanship and not enough progress -- too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving. Even at a time of enormous challenge, the peoples' business is not being done.
All of this and much more has led me to believe that there are better ways to serve my fellow citizens, my beloved state, and our nation than continued service in Congress.
To put it in words most people can understand: 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. I will not, therefore, be a candidate for election to the Senate this November.
Taking a note from Sarah Palin, Bayh was rather vague in his plans for the future and how they will provide him the opportunity to indulge his "passion for service."
"Running for the sake of winning an election, just to remain in public office, is not good enough," Bayh said. "And it has never been what motivates me.
"At this time I simply believe I can best contribute to society in another way: creating jobs by helping grow a business, helping guide an institution of higher learning or helping run a worthy charitable endeavor."
Indiana Republican Party Chairman Murray Clark released a rather cordial statement in response to Bayh's announcement, as did Sen. Richard Lugar.
"Evan Bayh has served the state of Indiana with distinction for the past 20 years," Clark said. "While at times we were on different sides of the issues, I have always appreciated his commitment to Indiana. First of all, we thank him for his service and wish him well in the future. That said, we have always viewed this Senate race as one that would be competitive."
"It has been a personal privilege to serve Indiana with a distinguished father and son, Birch and Evan Bayh," said Lugar. "The last 33 years of political life in our country have often been times of excessive partisanship. I am grateful that Birch and Evan Bayh were always ready to work with me in making certain that Hoosier wisdom and commonsense had strong united voices in every debate."
"Sen. Bayh announced today he won't seek reelection, claiming to be disenchanted with the political process," is how RNC Chairman Michael Steele responded to Bayh's retirement news. "After Democrats spent billions of taxpayer dollars on a failed stimulus and voted to spend billions more for their unpopular government-run health care plan, I think it's fair to say that Americans are disenchanted as well.
"The timing isn't a coincidence either," Steele continues. " The fact of the matter is Senator Evan Bayh and moderate Democrats across the country are running for the hills because they sold out their constituents and don't want to face them at the ballot box."
Here's a link to Bayh's senate website and the full-text of the speech, press release, resignation letter entitled "Thank you, Indiana." http://tinyurl.com/yhd9xm7
Update: 3:30 p.m.
While Republican responses to Bayh's retirement from the senate have been pouring in all day (even before the announcement was official), the Democrats have been uncharacteristically quiet.
That quiet ends, however, with an afternoon press release from Indiana Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker, who has just released this statement:
"Today, I join Hoosiers from all around the state in expressing my gratitude to Senator Bayh for his years of hard work on behalf of the people of Indiana.
"It would be impossible to overstate the incredible impact that Senator Evan Bayh has had on this state during his career as a public servant. As Governor, Evan Bayh cut taxes, created jobs, and earned his title as the 'Education Governor.' As Senator, he has fought tirelessly for Hoosier jobs, promoted children's health, and battled wasteful spending no matter what political party was in control.
"Evan Bayh's dedication to fiscal responsibility and seeking bipartisan solutions has served Indiana well for over two decades. As this chapter of service to Hoosiers ends and a new one opens for Senator Bayh, I sincerely hope this legacy serves as a model for elected representatives across this state."
(I'll let you all read between the lines on this one...)