Former Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh is expected to announce a run for Senate on Monday, sources told CNN .
Former Rep. Baron Hill, the current Democratic nominee, informed the Indiana Democratic Party chairman Monday morning that he is dropping out of the race.
“While our campaign had been making great progress and building momentum all over Indiana, it is simply not enough to fight back against the slew of out-of-state special interest and dark money that is certain to come our way between now and November,” Hill said in a statement.
Hill has struggled to raise money, and ended the first quarter of 2016 with $449,000. Bayh, meanwhile, has $9 million sitting in his campaign account. Democrats had tried to recruit him for the race over a year ago, but he passed.
“Baron Hill has always put Indiana first, and has been focused on setting aside party differences to strengthen our state and country. I share this commitment, and agree with him that the stakes have never been higher,” Bayh said in a statement Monday.
“Baron and I have spoken and we both believe that we must send leaders to Washington who will put Hoosiers’ interests ahead of any one political party,” Bayh added.
The former senator’s entrance into the race should make the contest against GOP Rep. Todd Young more competitive. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call is moving the race from Favored Republican to Tilts Democrat .
Young raised $1.4 million in the 2nd quarter and ended June with $1.23 million in the bank, his campaign reported Monday.
“It’s been evident that Young is not a great candidate,” said a Democratic strategist with knowledge of the state. “It just happened that Baron wasn’t the guy to get it across the line,” he added.
Hill admitted as much in his statement. “Democrats have a very real chance at winning this Senate seat, especially with a strong nominee who has the money, name identification and resources to win,” Hill said.
“I do not want to stand in the way of Democrats winning Indiana and the U.S. Senate,” Hill said.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee echoed Hill’s comments Monday, but did not mention Bayh by name.
“With stakes this high, we can’t let dark money and special interest groups elect an out-of-touch partisan like Todd Young,” DSCC Executive Director Tom Lopach said in a statement.
“Hoosiers need a senator who will stand up for them, and we look forward to working with Indiana Democrats to elect such a leader this November,” Lopach added.
Republicans see plenty to attack Bayh on.
“Evan Bayh is a lobbyist who backed the Obama agenda 96 percent of the time as he left the Senate in 2010, knowing he couldn’t win re-election thanks to his support for the toxic Democrat agenda. His support for Obama’s job-killing policies disqualifies him from the opportunity to represent Indiana again,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Ward Baker said in a statement Monday.
“The one thing Democrats don’t realize and haven’t thought about is how many young people have never cast a ballot with Evan Bayh on it,” said Indiana GOP strategist Pete Seat, a former spokesman for President George W. Bush. Republicans already hit Bayh for being a “Washington insider” — he’s the son of a former senator.
Bayh served in the Senate from 1999 to 2011 and as governor and secretary of state of Indiana before that.
Despite encouragement from President Barack Obama , he dropped out of his 2010 re-election bid.
In a New York Times op-ed titled “Why I’m Leaving the Senate,” Bayh lamented the hyper-partisanship of Congress and the campaign finance system.
Following his retirement, Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsworth ran for his seat, but went on to lose to Sen. Dan Coats by 15 points.
Coats is retiring at the end of this Congress. He, too, criticized Bayh Monday as a creature of Washington.
“Evan Bayh’s arranged entrance into this race means that Washington Democrats have the candidate they want to continue the failed Obama-Clinton policies of the past eight years,” Coats said in a statement.