Senate Ratings

February 15, 2010 · 12:59 PM EST

Democratic Senator Evan Bayh’s sudden and surprising decision not to seek reelection this year is another blow to Democratic Senate prospects.

Bayh surely was the strongest candidate Indiana Democrats could have nominated – if only because of his years of proven electoral success and his $13 million campaign account – and an open seat is much more difficult for Democrats to hold in the current political environment.

But with former Sen. Dan Coats now leading a relatively weak Republican field, and with the Democratic nomination far from being decided, this race hasn’t really taken shape. At least two Indiana Democratic U.S. House members receive mention as possible Senate candidates, Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill, both of whom represent districts at the southern end of the state.

Former Gov. Joe Kernan and former Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Davis (who was picked by Kernan to fill a vacancy) are also mentioned. Davis was state budget director under then-Gov. Evan Bayh. Kernan, who was elected lieutenant governor in 1996 and 2000 before succeeding to the state’s top post following the death of Gov. Frank O’Bannon (D) in 2003, lost his bid for a full term in 2004 to Republican Mitch Daniels.

But some Democrats are pushing for a nominee without a voting record for Republicans to pick apart, with millionaire businesswoman Bren Simon, 66, mentioned by party insiders. She is president of the family’s property management company and a director of the family’s charitable trust.

Simon is the widow of the late Melvin Simon, who died in September. The 82-year old Simon’s estate is valued at over $1 billion, and includes Simon Property Group (and its more than 300 malls) and the Indiana Pacers.

But Bren Simon is in the middle of a nasty family battle over her late husband’s will, with his children by an earlier marriage challenging his new will of February, 2009, which allegedly increased Bren’s share of the estate.

Given today’s developments, the national landscape and uncertainties about the race, we are moving the Indiana Senate race from Narrow Advantage for Democrats to Toss-Up. But clearly, Bayh’s decision gives Republicans another excellent takeover opportunity.

Here are our latest Senate ratings.
#- Moved benefiting Democrats
*- Moved benefiting Republicans

Lean Takeover (0 R, 4 D)
  • Lincoln (D-AR)
  • Reid (D-NV)
  • ND Open (Dorgan, D)
  • DE Open (Kaufman, D)
Toss-Up (4 R, 4 D)
  • KY Open (Bunning, R)
  • MO Open (Bond, R)
  • NH Open (Gregg, R)
  • OH Open (Voinovich, R)
  • IL Open (Burris, D)
  • IN Open (Bayh, D) *
  • Bennet (D-CO)
  • Specter (D-PA)
Narrow Advantage for Incumbent Party (1 R, 0 D)
  • Burr (R-NC)
Clear Advantage for Incumbent Party (2 R,1 D)
  • Vitter (R-LA)
  • FL Open (LeMieux, R)
  • CT Open (Dodd, D)

Currently Safe (11 R, 10 D)

  • Bennett (R-UT)
  • Coburn (R-OK)
  • Crapo (R-ID)
  • DeMint (R-SC)
  • Grassley (R-IA)
  • Isakson (R-GA)
  • McCain (R-AZ)
  • Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Shelby (R-AL)
  • Thune (R-SD)
  • KS Open (Brownback, R)
  • Boxer (D-CA)
  • Feingold (D-WI)
  • Gillibrand (D-NY)
  • Inouye (D-HI)
  • Leahy (D-VT)
  • Mikulski (D-MD)
  • Murray (D-WA)
  • Schumer (D-NY)
  • Wyden (D-OR)