Sen. Evan Bayh, a prominent Democrat who has been mentioned prominently in connection with White House sweepstakes in recent years, is ready to announce he will not seek re-election, a Democratic official said Monday.
Bayh's departure continues a recent exodus from Congress among both Democrats and Republicans, including veteran Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, amid polls showing a rising anti-incumbent fervor in an electorate angry over high unemployment, mounting federal deficits and lucrative banking industry bonuses.
The official, who said the 54-year-old Bayh was ready to announce his plans at an Indianapolis news conference later Monday, divulged the senator's decision only on grounds of anonymity because the announcement was still pending.
Bayh's name was among a handful of well-known Democrats prominently mentioned as possible vice presidential candidates in both Sen. John Kerry's 2004 run for the presidency and President Barack Obama's campaign last year. He was believed to have been on Obama's final list. Obama settled on then-Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware.
Less than two weeks ago, former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats, a Republican, announced that he would try to reclaim his old seat from Bayh. The move by Coats came as the GOP was still celebrating Republican Scott Brown's January upset to take Edward Kennedy's former seat in Massachusetts.
Bayh is serving his second six-year term in the Senate, and is a centrist Democrat from a Republican-leaning state.
Bayh served two terms as Indiana's governor before winning the first of his two Senate terms in 1998. He had until recent weeks been regarded as a near certainty for re-election, having raised nearly $13 million for his campaign and facing little-known Republican opposition until national Republicans recruited Coats to enter the race.
Bayh's name was already well known when he first ran for political office in 1986, winning the race for Indiana secretary of state that year. His father, Birch, won the first of three terms in the U.S. Senate in 1962 and was an unabashed Great Society liberal.
The younger Bayh ran for governor in 1988 on a platform of fiscal responsibility, reducing what he considered to be a bloated government bureacracy and opposing tax increases.
Bayh served two terms as Indiana's governor before winning the first of his two Senate terms in 1998.
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