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Even Before Bayh's Exit, GOP was Excited

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Even Before Bayh's Exit, GOP was Excited

Indiana U.S. Senator Evan Bayh talks to reporters after announcing he will not seek re-election (AP)

Indiana U.S. Senator Evan Bayh’s abrupt retirement has left Indiana Democrats without an obvious candidate to replace him.

Bayh’s decision came as a surprise in part because of the nearly $13-million his campaign reported in its most recent federal filing. A moderate Democrat, Bayh opened - briefly - a presidential exploratory committee a few years ago. The former two-term Indiana governor won his Senate seat in 1998, succeeding Republican Senator Dan Coats, who opted not to seek re-election.

In a quirky loop of history, Coats a couple weeks ago announced his interest in running for Bayh’s seat. The chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Texas Senator John Cornyn, said in a statement at the time that Coats’ candidacy “would immediately put the state of Indiana on the map for Republicans in 2010.”

The state has been reliably Republican in recent presidential contests until 2008, when then-Illinois Senator Barack Obama narrowly captured Indiana’s electoral votes.

Bayh becomes the 11th senator up for election this year to announce he’s not running. Five are Democrats, 6 Republicans.

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