Commentary: Evan Bayh says goodbye to Senate life

It's too soon to call the announcements of retirement by current members of Congress an epidemic, but there's something going around, and it must be a pretty strong bug. In some cases, such as that of Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, there were signs that the long-time incumbent might be in jeopardy. But several Republicans are leaving the House, people who presumably would be fairly confident of winning another term.

Then there's Sen. Evan Bayh. One account of last year's election season had the popular Indiana Democrat on President Obama's short list for vice president, a list on which he was said to be found in 2004 when John Kerry was his party's nominee. Bayh has two terms under his belt, is only 54 years old, and is moderate to conservative on many issues.

He's also apparently sick of it all, it being the harsh partisanship that has divided both houses of Congress and, Bayh said Monday, that has made it difficult to get anything done. So he's calling it quits, even though he would have been a fairly safe bet for a third term.

Bayh is perhaps getting more attention than other retirees because of his national profile and because he's been around the Senate since childhood. His father, Birch Bayh, served three Senate terms before being defeated in a Republican year in 1980 by Dan Quayle, a future vice president.

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