The latest Senate retirement headed into 2016 is Indiana Republican Dan Coats, setting off a Hoosier state shuffle for his seat.
"Today I am announcing that I will not seek re-election to the United States Senate," Coats said in a statement. "This was not an easy decision. While I believe I am well-positioned to run a successful campaign for another six-year term, I have concluded that the time has come to pass this demanding job to the next generation of leaders.
Coats's decision to retire may set off a Republican scramble for the open seat. While the GOP would seem to have the early edge, it is now another state they must defend in a presidential year where they're almost entirely playing defense to protect their new Senate majority.
Potential Republican candidates include Reps. Todd Young and Susan Brooks, both of whom have long been viewed as having statewide ambitions, as well as Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and Reps. Todd Rokita, Jackie Walorski and Marlin Stutzman.
An aide to Rep. Luke Messer told The Hill he wouldn't seek the Senate seat.
Coats's chief of staff, Eric Holcomb, is also taking a look at the race and is seen as a top candidate by by Indiana observers. He is close to kingmaker and former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), has been traveling the state extensively building connections with the GOP grassroots.
“Eric has taken a leave of absence from Senator Coats’ office as he considers a run for the open U.S. Senate seat in 2016. He’s grateful for the immediate outpouring of support from every corner of Indiana and will make a decision soon,” Pete Seat, a spokesperson for Eric Holcomb, said in a statement.
Well that's the GOP side, plenty of people salivating over that prize. But Indiana's other senator is Democrat Joe Donnelly who won because Republican Richard Mourdock was a tea party nutcase that Indiana didn't want to touch.. Could the Dems take both seats in a similar way?
That would mean finding another Blue Dog in Indiana with the cash to run for Senate. And you know who that means.
Their best recruit would likely be former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who chose to retire rather than facing a tough race in 2010 and still has close to $10 million in the bank for a potential return to politics. Bayh has ruled out a run for governor but hasn't closed the door on a Senate run.
National Democrats immediately expressed optimism over the newly open seat, pointing back to their 2012 victory.
“Indiana's Senate race is now one of the most competitive Senate races in the country, and Democrats are ready to put together a strong campaign just like we did in 2012. We're confident that we will find a great candidate who will put Indiana first and win this seat in 2016," Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Jon Tester (Mont.) said in a statement.
If Bayh doesn't run, former Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.) and Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott (D) are potential candidates on the Democratic side.
Oh hooray Evan F'ckin Bayh might be back! I'm sooooooo haaaaaaaappy.