WASHINGTON -- Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., announced his decision not to seek another term in Congress on Monday, saying he is fed up with the excessive partisanship on Capitol Hill.
Bayh's exit could mean the U.S. Senate is in for a big change this fall.
Bad Omen for Democrats?
Even prior to the former Indiana governor's announcement the prospects for Democrats this November did not appear too promising.
"Congress is not operating as it should, there is much too much partisanship and not enough progress too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving," Bayh said at a news conference in Indianapolis.
Bayh's decision makes him the latest in a string of Democrats departing Washington politics.
Last week, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., announced he would not seek re-election this fall.
And in January two key Democrats in the Senate, Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Chris Dodd of Connecticut, bowed out from their campaigns as well.
Their departure puts those seats and several others in play for Republicans this fall, giving the GOP a shot at winning back the majority and control of the Senate.
Bayh blamed partisanship and gridlock for his decision to quit, placing responsibility on both Republicans and his own party.
"Even at a time of enormous national challenge, the people's business is not getting done," Bayh said.
Political observers agree that the long hours and constant bickering makes serving in Washington less appealing.
"The Hill is an incredibly poisonous place right now," the Boston Globe's Susan Milligan said. "Honestly most of them could be making a lot more money for a lot less aggravation doing something else."
Steele: Moderate Dems Ashamed to Face Constituents
However, some Republicans believe there's more to the story.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said a frustrated electorate is sending "moderate Democrats across the country like Bayh running for the hills because they sold out their constituents and don't want to face them at the ballot box."
Still, Democrats in Indiana are predicting they'll survive without Bayh.
"Well, I think that the candidate who is successful at attaining the nomination from the party, party's central committee, will have broad-based support. And it will be the best possible person," Indiana Democratic Chairman Dan Parker said.
Party leaders in Washington agree with Parker's assessment.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued a statement saying the Indiana Senate seat is one that Democrats will fight to hold on to.
However with Bayh's exit, that fight has become much harder to win.