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Indiana's Evan Bayh To Retire

A true shocker on this holiday: Sen. Evan Bayh (D) will not seek re-election, a Democratic source confirms. Washington Post's Chris Cillizza has the rationale:

"After all these years, my passion for service to my fellow citizens is undiminished, but my desire to do so by serving in Congress has waned," Bayh will say.

The news comes weeks after former Sen. Dan Coats (R) announced he would challenge Bayh. Initially seen as a strong threat, the DSCC and others had been successful in quickly advancing the narrative that Coats had lost touch with the Hoosier State after years in Washington, even pointing to a video in which he openly discusses possibly moving to North Carolina.

Bayh's decision is also stunning given how much money he had in the bank -- nearly $13 million after the latest fundraising period closed. Recent polling had shown Bayh ahead, though not necessarily comfortably.

To say that it will be a challenge for Democrats to hold the seat now is an understatement, and not just because of the political climate. According to the Indiana Secretary of State's Web site, the filing deadline for candidates to qualify for the primary ballot is this Friday. But to qualify, a candidate needed signed petitions from each of the state's Congressional Districts by tomorrow. That gives Democrats almost no time to find a replacement.

A Democratic source says that in the event of a vacancy, the state party could name a candidate later on. The source says to look at two current Democratic Congressman: Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill.

Week by week, it seems Republicans are closer to putting control of the Senate in play. This is the kind of stunner that ensures that is the case.