Evan Bayh: I'm not going to challenge Barack Obama in 2012

Much has been made about how much scorn Bayh has received from progressives on the Internet, and there's no doubt that many of them  loathe the man sometimes known, in the words of  Salon.com's Steve Kornacki, as "every Republican's favorite Democrat."

Bayh's timing isn't necessarily the best if you're hoping that a Democrat can maintain the seat this fall;  to get on the ballot, a candidate needed to turn in the necessary signatures by this Friday, prompting this piece of info from the NY Times today:

Democrats say that since no party candidate is likely to raise enough signatures to qualify for the ballot by the deadline on Friday, the state party will be allowed to select its Senate candidate. But Republicans are challenging that interpretation and said they were exploring their legal options to deny Democrats a candidate if no one meets the filing deadline.

(There is grass-roots support for getting noted lefty and Indiana native John Mellencamp to run.  There's even a Facebook page devoted to that.)

With Bayh gone, national Republicans are thrilled that they might have a chance of retaking the Senate this November.  Their odds are still long, but with several other retirements already announced that surely look to go GOP (such as in North Dakota, where Byron Dorgan is calling it quits), the Bayh announcement is no doubt a blow to President Obama and Democrats nationally.

An article this morning from Real Clear Politics by Sean Trende lays down the odds, with the best chance of Republicans taking over if they can score an upset in California, New York, Wisconsin, and/or Washington State.  No doubt Barbara Boxer is in a dogfight over a yet to be determined GOP candidate, but what some national observers fail to note is that in two  of her three previous elections for Senate, she ran a very tight race before coming on strong in the end.  She has never been overwhelmingly popular, because despite what you may hear, much of the Golden State is actually quite conservative.  If Carly Fiorina gets the nomination, that will be a tough fight.

The other vulnerable Democratic Senators RCP writes about are Kirsten Gillibrand in NY, Russ Feingold in Wisconsin and Patty Murray in Washington.  New York is way too unpredictable to call.  The question isn't whether Gillibrand can win per se, but if the Dems can maintain the seat (as Harold Ford continues to explore a run).  We can't make out what might happen in the other states.  Then again, independent Joe Lieberman might just decide to commit himself to becoming  a full-fledged Republican come the fall.  In any case, with all the criticism from liberals about centrist-to-conservative Democrat Bayh, his departure can easily be read as the ultimate rebuke to their complaints.

A day after he stunned most of Washington by announcing his resignation from the Senate, Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh said this morning on MSNBC that he would not run for the Democratic nomination for president against Barack Obama in 2012.

The question, asked on the program's Morning Joe show by guest Mark Halperin, was triggered by fevered speculation in an article in the New York Post today.  Though the story also had Bayh denying he'd make such  a move, it featured quotes by people like campaign strategist Joe Trippi, who said,

Bayh's decision was likely "one of the smartest moves of 2010" for a presidential hopeful, said Democratic campaign strategist Joe Trippi.

"It's going to be a lot easier running for president in the future because he walked away from Washington."

Bayh said he was quitting yesterday because he says he's sick of Congress, and mentioned two recent pieces of proposed legislation that went by the wayside as examples of how dysfunctional Washington is, a sentiment that seems to be growing by the day around the nation.

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