ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports: In other perfect game news – Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky, will not seek reelection. The pugnacious (some would say grumpy) Republican and former Major League pitcher is considered a bit of an outlier in the caucus.
He’s had trouble raising money this year and his relationship with the other Republican from Kentucky – Leader Mitch McConnell – is strained.
One imagines its McConnell that Bunning is talking about when he says other Republicans have stood between him and fundraising dollars – and it’s this fundraising problem that is keeping Bunning out of the Senate race.
“To win a general election, a candidate has to be able to raise millions of dollars to get the message out to voters,” says Bunning in a paper statement. “Over the past year, some of the leaders of the Republican Party in the Senate have done everything in their power to dry up my fundraising. The simple fact is that I have not raised the funds necessary to run an effective campaign for the U.S. Senate… This was a difficult decision because I feel like my work in the Senate is more important now than ever. “
The hall of fame pitcher caucus will fall to zero.
This is a huge victory for national Republicans who did everything they could to discourage Bunning from seeking reelection. Republican Secretary of State in KY, Trey Grayson had formed an exploratory committee this past Spring and appears to be the party's preferred candidate to keep the seat in GOP hands. Bunning's lack of campaign cash and less than stellar poll numbers placed Kentucky on the Democratic target list for the 2010 cycle. Without Bunning on the ballot, it is doubtful this race will be as high a priority for the Dems as it may have been.
Here is Bunning’s statement in full:
"I have the same conservative principles in 2009 as I had when I was first elected to Congress in 1986. Over the past twenty-two years I have always done what I thought was right for Kentucky even if that meant taking positions that were not popular with the media or even leaders of my own party. Speaking out against bailouts and wasteful spending supported by the Republican leadership in the Senate and a Republican President last year angered many of my colleagues in my own party, but I didn’t run for public office for fame or public acclaim. When I cast a vote I think about how it will affect my grandchildren and the next generation of Kentuckians, not my next election or invitation to a D.C. cocktail party. The people of Kentucky know where I stand and I am honored that they have continued to send me back to Congress to represent them each time I have run for the House and Senate.
Unfortunately, running for office is not just about the issues. To win a general election, a candidate has to be able to raise millions of dollars to get the message out to voters. Over the past year, some of the leaders of the Republican Party in the Senate have done everything in their power to dry up my fundraising. The simple fact is that I have not raised the funds necessary to run an effective campaign for the U.S. Senate. For this reason, I will not be a candidate for re-election in 2010.
This was a difficult decision because I feel like my work in the Senate is more important now than ever. As I finish out my term, Kentuckians should know that I will continue to be a strong voice against the domestic policies pushed by the White House and Congress that – if enacted – will put this country on the path to socialism.
I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that the United States remains true to the principles that have made this country a beacon of freedom and economic opportunity for so many. My hope has always been that my grandchildren and all Kentuckians have the same opportunities that I had growing up in Northern Kentucky many years ago. My fear is that the debt that this Congress and Administration is placing on future generations of Americans will lower the standard of living for all Kentuckians in the future if they are not stopped.
While I am confident that this seat in the U.S. Senate will stay in Republican hands, I have no plans to endorse a candidate in the Republican primary. Like many others in Kentucky, I look forward to seeing where each of the candidates stands on the important issues and I hope a strong conservative wins the primary. The Republican Party needs more people with strong principles and convictions that can stand up to the temptations of political power that have engulfed so many of our leaders after they arrive inside the beltway.
Finally, I would like to thank the many friends and supporters that have encouraged me to seek a third term in the Senate. Without the friendship, guidance, and support of so many over the years I never would have had the privilege to represent Kentucky in the House and Senate. Mary and I feel so blessed to have so many good friends and such a strong family. We have spent many years in the public eye and we look forward to spending more time with our children and grandchildren. Thank you and God bless.
ABC News' David Chalian contributed to this report.