Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Did Evan Bayh screw his fellow Democrats?

I thought so, given the, shall we say, interesting timing of his retirement announcement, and that would have made some sense, given that Bayh has made a long political career out of being a thorn in the side of his own party, but it seems that it's Republicans, not Democrats, who are angry with him, or with the timing, and who may lose out:

Republicans are livid about the timing of Sen. Evan Bayh's (D-Ind.) retirement announcement.

They have at least four candidates in the upcoming primary while the Indiana Democratic Party will get to decide its nominee.

Indiana required nominating petitions to be filed by noon Tuesday. Bayh announced Monday he would not seek reelection, giving would-be candidates less than 24 hours to get on the ballot.

Republicans have four candidates who made the deadline and a fifth whose signatures are being validated. Democrats had no serious successor in position, given that Bayh had already his filed his nominating petitions and had $13 million in bank. 

Because no Democrat was able to gather the 4,500 nominating signatures -- 500 from each congressional district -- the party's executive committee will meet in the next six weeks to decide on a nominee.

Some big-name Republicans, like Rep. Mike Pence, stayed away, given that a run against Bayh was seen as a sure loss, and the favourite on the GOP side is now former Sen. Dan Coats. "Democratic strategists said the lack of a primary, while Republicans have a five-way battle raging, could be a boon." Indeed. The other four Republicans could pull out and let Coats have the nomination, but otherwise there is potential for some major infighting on the GOP side. 

Among the "losers" of Bayh's announcement, WaPo's Chris Cillizza lists "Democratic morale." That may be true, but Democratic morale is low already, and the possibility of putting up a strong candidate against Coats, or whomever the Republican nominee turns out to be, with the possibility of holding on to Bayh's seat, should boost Democratic spirits. Of course, that strong candidate could be Brad Ellsworth, whom Cillizza lists as a "winner," and Ellsworth's a devout Blue Dog who could turn out to be another Evan Bayh.

Yes, Democrats are understandably "scarred and demanding aggression," to quote HuffPo's Sam Stein, and I get that, and I tend to agree with those who argue that what the Democrats need to do now -- and this would certainly improve morale -- is move forward with their agenda, incluging passing health-care reform.

In Indiana, though, the key is keeping Bayh's seat, and that means going with a big-time candidate who can fill Bayh's big shoes and run competitively in what remains a fairly red state.

So how about John (Cougar) Mellencamp?

No, seriously. I'll get into it in a subsequent post.

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