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Ellsworth to Run for Indiana Senate Seat

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana Rep. Brad Ellsworth, a former county sheriff first elected to Congress in 2006, announced Friday he will seek the Senate seat being vacated by Evan Bayh.

Bayh's surprise announcement Monday that he wouldn't seek re-election came too late for any successor to get the 4,500 petition signatures to be on the May 4 primary ballot, so the Indiana Democratic Party's state central committee will choose a nominee. They cannot officially do so until after the primary, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker said Thursday.

Ellsworth's votes against some signature Democratic proposals such as cap-and-trade and the stimulus bill make him an attractive candidate for the party in a conservative state. But Ellsworth's entry into the race does not guarantee Democrats still won't have an intraparty fight for the nomination. Others, including Rep. Baron Hill, have been considering the race.

"Sheriff is a job that comes down to protecting families from harm, helping folks solve their problems or resolve their disputes, and just being willing to put your fellow citizens' best interests ahead of your own," said Ellsworth, 51, who was the Vanderburgh County sheriff for more than 20 years. "When I look at the U.S. Senate these days, I sure think they could use more folks with those same qualities."

Bayh's exit from the race prompted political handicappers to switch the Indiana Senate race from "lean Democratic" to "lean Republican."

Republicans in the race include former Sen. Dan Coats and former Rep. John Hostettler.

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