Scared Away:

Sen. Mark Dayton (D.-Minn.), who irritated Republicans and mortified Democrats October 12 when he closed his Capitol Hill office citing terrorism fears, announced today he wouldn’t seek re-election to a second term in 2006.

Dayton was long considered the most vulnerable Democrat facing re-election, but his decision to abandon D.C. last fall made his situation even worse. His fears about a terrorist strike embarrassed him and prompted ridicule from members of his own party. “I do so out of extreme, but necessary, precaution to protect the lives and safety of my Senate staff and my Minnesota constituents, who might otherwise visit my office in the next few weeks,” he said at the time. Republicans now stand a good shot at picking up Dayton’s seat in once-liberal Minnesota. Rep. Mark Kennedy (R.) is an early favorite for the GOP nomination, but the race could draw several other Republicans.