Baron Hill drops out of Senate race, clearing path for Evan Bayh

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Former Indiana governor Evan Bayh may make a return to the U.S. Senate.

Bayh is expected to make the announcement Monday. According to a source close to the decision, Bayh plans to run for Indiana's open U.S. Senate seat.

Bayh stepped away from the senate race in 2010 and has been out of politics in an elected capacity since then. The Democratic Party chose Brad Ellsworth to run in his stead, but Dan Coats won the race that year.

Baron Hill

Baron Hill

Indiana will have an open seat in the Senate because Coats will step down once his term has ended. Rep. Todd Young won the Republican primary in May during a hotly contested race against Marlin Stutzman. Baron Hill, the lone Democratic candidate, announced Monday that he would drop out of the race.

Hill sent the following statement:

I can’t thank you enough for your support over the last year and a half since I first announced my candidacy for the U.S. Senate. We have worked tirelessly to raise money and to build a grassroots network that would hopefully carry us to victory on Election Day.

I got into this race to put Hoosiers first and to always do what’s right no matter the political cost. That’s how I have run each of my races before, and that’s what I have done throughout my time in public service – from the Indiana General Assembly to the U.S. House of Representatives.

I have never run away from tough decisions or tough fights. But, I am a pragmatic person who will always put my country and my state first. I am also a proud Democrat who wants to see an Indiana Democrat fighting for Hoosier families alongside Senator Joe Donnelly in the U.S. Senate. And, I want to do everything in my power to ensure a U.S. Senate that will govern responsibly.

That is why, after consulting with my family, my staff and party leaders, I am withdrawing from the U.S. Senate race and removing my name from the November ballot.

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.

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. I do not want to stand in the way of Democrats winning Indiana and the U.S. Senate. That would not be fair to my party or my state. And, the stakes are far too high in this election not to put my country above my own political ambitions.

In accordance with Indiana law, I have filed the necessary paperwork to withdraw from the race and I have notified Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody. The Indiana Democratic Party’s State Central Committee will now undertake a process to fill the vacancy with a nominee who will win in November.

To those of you who have been with me from the very beginning and who have contributed to this campaign or any of my previous campaigns, I cannot thank you enough for the support you have given to Betty and me. We are eternally grateful, and your faith in us will never be forgotten.

While I am withdrawing from this race, I intend to stay involved and do everything I can to help elect a Democrat to the U.S. Senate. I hope you will continue to do the same.

May God bless you and your family, and may He continue to bless the great state of Indiana.

John Zody, chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party, said the party was working to fill the vacancy:

Baron Hill is a friend and a mentor, and I am proud to know him. His service to this state has always come from the heart – he is one of the most principled people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Congressman Hill has informed me of his withdrawal from the U.S. Senate race, and as State Party Chair I will begin the process for the Democratic State Central Committee to fill the ballot vacancy in accordance with Indiana state law.

Bayh served two terms as Indiana governor (1989-1997) before being elected to the Senate, where he represented Indiana from 1999 through 2011.

Bayh considered a presidential run in 2008 before endorsing Hillary Clinton. He was also rumored to be under consideration as a running mate for Barack Obama.

Bayh released a statement of his own saying he's spoken with Hill and agrees that "we must send leaders to Washington" who will put Indiana first:

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. 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.

Todd Young's campaign responded with a statement about Bayh's potential entry into the Senate race:

After he cast the deciding vote for Obamacare, Evan Bayh left Indiana families to fend for themselves so he could cash-in with insurance companies and influence peddlers as a gold-plated lobbyist. This seat isn't the birthright of a wealthy lobbyist from Washington, it belongs to the people of Indiana.