Evan Bayh, the former U.S. Senator from Indiana, is reportedly returning to politics.
Bayh, a Democrat, is expected to announce today that he will run for the open Senate seat of incumbent Republican Dan Coats (who also returned to Washington as a comeback or retread candidate). Coats is not running for reelection.
Bayh has yet to officially confirm the media reports that he is running, but the official nominee has already dropped out.
Indiana is a GOP-trending state (although Barack Obama won there in 2008), so most political observers expected U.S. Rep. Todd Young to defeat the Democrat, Baron Hill, in November.
Given Bayh’s perceived popularitywith the Indiana electorate, pundits now rate the Indiana election a toss-up. “Bayh presents a more formidable obstacle [to Republicans], although his post-Senate legal career is sure to be an opposition-research minefield for him, especially in an election defined by anger at big government and career politicians,” Politico observed.
Democrats need five seats to retake control of the Senate chamber outright.
The former Senator’s bank balance may have something to do with the switch from Hill. “Bayh has been heavily courted by Democrats ever since he left in 2010 in large part because of the large amount of campaign cash he had left in his account — about $10 million,” CNN explained.
Evan Bayh was Indiana’s Senator from 1999 to 2011. In February 2010, he announced that he wouldn’t seek a third term, citing excessive partisanship and the undue influence of big money special interests. He served as the Hoosier state’s governor from 1989 to 1997, and he is also a legacy office holder, having been elected to the Senate seat once held by Birch Bayh, his father.
As a Senator, Evan Bayh, 60, voted for Obamacare, the Iraq War, and the bank bailouts, among other high-visibility decisions.
In a Facebook posting and without mentioning Evan Bayh, Baron Hill revealed this morning that he is withdrawing from the race.
“Democrats have a very real chance at winning this Senate seat, especially with a strong nominee who has the money, name identification and resources to win. I do not want to stand in the way of Democrats winning Indiana and the U.S. Senate. That would not be fair to my party or my state. And, the stakes are far too high in this election not to put my country above my own political ambitions.”
Barack Obama reportedly considered naming Evan Bayh his vice presidential running mate in 2008 before settling on Joe Biden.
After leaving elected office, Bayh has worked as a quasi-lobbyist in Washington and also sat on the Fox News Sunday panel.
Bayh “is the Democratic Party’s answer to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whose surprise announcement to run for reelection last month made him the instant favorite in a seat Democrats had hoped to flip,” The Hill noted.
As alluded to above, Indiana is usually a solid red state, but the other Hoosier U.S. Senator, Joe Donnelly, is also a Democrat. Donnelly won the election in November 2012 after the campaign of GOP hopeful Richard Mourdock imploded over controversial abortion remarks. Mike Pence, Indiana’s GOP governor, is reportedly on Donald Trump’s VP short list.
“In the game of chess that Democrats and Republicans play, even if Bayh can’t win his old seat back, his candidacy would force Republicans to spend money in a state they had no plans to invest in,” AP reported.
“Young’s relatively easy march to Election Day now looks like one of the toughest assignments in politics. That said, it should be noted that he is a skilled politician and a rising star in the GOP. He has been through some hard-fought House campaigns and isn’t likely to shrink from this one,” the Indy Star asserted about the likely Evan Bayh for Senate campaign not necessarily being a lock in November.
[Photo by Harry Hamburg/AP]