Indiana Democrats stunned by Sen. Evan Bayh's decision not to seek a third term face the daunting task of finding a candidate for the November ballot to fill the shoes of the man who's long been the Republican-leaning state's most popular Democrat.
"There's no obvious replacement for him. Nobody immediately comes to mind because he's been such a towering presence," said Robert Dion, a professor of American politics at the University of Evansville.
Indiana's Republican leanings have long made the state tough ground for Democrats. Hoosiers had gone 44 years without choosing a Democrat for president before Barack Obama narrowly won the state in 2008.
And until Bayh entered politics in the 1980s, Republicans had long ruled the Statehouse.
Indiana remains a "very small-town rural kind of state" whose residents don't like new government programs, spending and taxes, said William Kubik, a professor of political science at Hanover College.
That climate poses a challenge to Democrats running for statewide office — with many having a conservative streak.
Democratic Senator Evan Bayh says he's had enough of the bitter partisanship that defines government in Washington so he's quitting his Senate seat after just two terms.
"My passion for helping people is not highly valued in Congress," said in announcing his decision Monday He added that he would prefer to be in an environment that thrives on "solutions not slogans, progress not politics."
Bayh's announcement stunned fellow Democrats and added more problems to a party that is losing ground in Congress just four years after gaining control of both the House and Senate.
Defeated just two years ago as the Republican presidential candidate and with his bonafides as a true conservative again being challenged, John McCain finds himself in a struggle to get even his party's nomination for another term in the Senate.
Many conservatives and Tea Party activists are lining up behind Republican challenger and former talk radio host J.D. Hayworth, reflecting a rising tide of voter frustration with incumbent politicians. Only 40 percent of Arizonans have a favorable view of McCain's job performance.
Senate Democrats pulled the plug Thursday on a so-called "bipartisan" jobs bill packed with pork and favors to lobbyists and replaced it with a leaner bill with just one goal -- putting Americans back to work.
The stripped-down proposal came in response to critics who said the original bill didn't really create jobs but did generate favors to and donations from special interests.
Republicans, outraged that their special interests would be ignored, yelped loudly, complaining that Democrats reneged on a deal.
Democrats responded by all but daring Republicans to vote against the new bill.