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Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 12/11/2010

Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh won't run for governor in 2012

By Chris Cillizza

Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh won't run for governor in 2012

Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh has decided against a run for governor in 2012, robbing Democrats of their top recruit in the Hoosier State.

"After careful consideration, I have concluded that the appropriate decision is not to be a candidate for governor of Indiana in 2012," Bayh said in a statement released to the Fix. ""The principle reason for my decision is the welfare of my twin sons."

Bayh's decision leaves the Democratic field wide open. Reps. Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill, both of whom lost races this fall, are likely to consider the Bayh-less contest. Others mentioned include Rep. Joe Donnelly, Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel and former state House Speaker John Gregg.

The Republican field remains uncertain. Some believe that Rep. Mike Pence will be the GOP candidate although the House member seems to be far more interested in a run for president in 2012. If Pence doesn't run, Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman is a likely candidate.

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) is term limited out of office in 2012 and considering a presidential run of his own.

Bayh, who will turn 55 on the day after Christmas, will leave the Senate at the end of the year after two terms defined, in large part, by his never-realized ambitions on the national stage.

Bayh was a finalist in the vice presidential sweepstakes in 2004 and 2008 but was passed over both times. He weighed a run for president in his own right in the 2008 cycle but backed away in December of 2006.

Bayh's retirement from the Senate in February shocked even the most seasoned political observers and turned his seat from an open certain Democratic hold into a major Republican target. (Former Republican Sen. Dan Coats easily Ellsworth in the open seat race this fall.)

In the months following his retirement announcement, Bayh made clear his dissatisfaction with the Senate -- even penning an op-ed in the New York Times in which he wrote:

Challenges of historic import threaten America's future. Action on the deficit, economy, energy, health care and much more is imperative, yet our legislative institutions fail to act. Congress must be reformed.

He made little secret that he viewed himself as an executive and that his time spent as governor from 1988 through 1996 was the best time of his political life.

Bayh's time as governor was largely viewed as successful and despite his inability to break through as a presidential or vice presidential candidate, he remains a very popular and potent political force in the Hoosier State.

The only child of former Sen. Birch Bayh and his wife, Marvella, Evan Bayh has been regarded as a future president almost since birth. He was first elected secretary of state in Indiana at age 30 and two years later was governor.

By Chris Cillizza  | December 11, 2010; 10:00 PM ET
Categories:  Governors  
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