When 2010 began, it was the Republican Party that had the most open Senate seats to defend this year, but Democratic retirements in Connecticut, North Dakota and now Indiana, with the surprise exit announcement from Evan Bayh (D-IN), the gap is closing.
Bayh, a member in good standing of the moderate end of the Democratic congressional spectrum, was facing a race that senate watchers had leaning in his direction. However, he said his own polling indicated easy re-election, despite the likely entry into the race of his predecessor in the seat, former Sen. Dan Coats. Bayh says he’d simply rather find a different way to serve the public.
According to an article at Huffington Post, Republicans in Indiana aren’t necessarily behind Coats, even if he is seen in a positive light among Republicans in Washington. That’s because he hasn’t been back home as an Indiana resident since his Senate days.
Nonetheless, Bayh’s retirement leaves the Democrats scrambling for a candidate in a swing state that tends to lean Republican.
In addition to the three retirements, which include Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Chris Dodd (D-CT), the Democrats have to try and hold seats of Barack Obama in Illinois and Joe Biden in Delaware, both of which are now being kept warm by placeholders.
The Republicans have a placeholder in Florida, and the roster of retirees includes Sam Brownback (R-KS), George Voinovich (R-OH), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Kit Bond (R-MO) and Jim Bunning (R-KY).
RBR/TVBR observation: We suspect it is only a brief matter of time before the ratings services change the Indiana race rating from leaning Democratic to toss-up.