Local politicians from both parties expressed surprise Monday that Sen. Evan Bayh will not seek re-election.

Dale Stickel, chairman of the Republican Party in Elkhart County, said Bayh’s announcement that he will not seek re-election “was totally unexpected.”

“This is a big boost to the Indiana Republican Party. It shows the precarious position of the Democratic Party,” Stickel said.

Stickel went on to predict that more Democrats may decide not to run again.

He called the announcement a bombshell and said, “The national party realizes it is in very deep trouble.”

Stickel said Bayh may use the $12 million war chest to seek another elected post or to spend it to support candidates in local races.

“I don’t look at it as his resignation from politics,” Stickel added.

Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore said the announcement was unexpected.

“Surprise and disappointment best describe my reaction to the news that Sen. Bayh will not seek re-election to the U.S. Senate,” Moore said. “Evan Bayh has had much to do with the quality of life we all enjoy as Hoosiers. He helped set the course we are now on for economic recovery and business diversity here in Elkhart,” Moore said.

“In 2009, by helping secure $2 billion for advanced battery technology in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Evan helped with the creation of a new industry here in Elkhart that may someday result in Elkhart becoming the electric car manufacturing capital of the world,” Moore said. “It is impossible to calculate all the good Sen. Bayh has done for the state of Indiana. I wish him all the success in the world at whatever challenges he faces in the future.”

State Sen. Marlin Stutzman, R-Howe, who was the first declared candidate to seek the Republican nomination to run for the U.S. Senate seat, praised the Bayh family for their service to the state.

“I want to say first of all, that we appreciate the service Sen. Bayh has given to the state of Indiana,” Stutzman said Monday. “His family has served the state for many years.”

But he called the announcement “a great opportunity for us as Hoosiers” to cut spending in Congress and reduce the nation’s debt level.

“That’s what people are asking for,” Stutzman said. He said that is what Hoosiers have told him in his campaigning across the state so far.

Stutzman served two terms as a state representative before being elected to represent District 13 in the state Senate.

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Murray Clark said he wishes Sen. Bayh well in the future.

“Evan Bayh has served the state of Indiana with distinction for the past 20 years,” Clark said. “While at times we were on different sides of the issues, I have always appreciated his commitment to Indiana. First of all, we thank him for his service and wish him well in the future.”

“That said, we have always viewed this Senate race as one that would be competitive. Today’s announcement cements that view and we really like our chances in the general election,” Clark said.

A national Democratic spokesman, Robert Menedez, had praise for Sen. Bayh and pledged that his party would have a strong candidate in the U.S. Senate race in the fall.

Menendez, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said, “I have a great deal of respect for Sen. Bayh and his years of service to his state and to his country.”

“We wish him the best as he moves on. The Indiana Senate seat is one that we will fight to hold on to. We will have a strong Democratic candidate on the ballot there, who will be running against a weakened Republican field, including federal lobbyist Dan Coats, whose baggage is now hardly a secret.”

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