Monday, February 15, 2010

Bye Bayh!

Indiana's junior senator, Democrat Evan Bayh, will not be seeking a third term in the senate. On several levels, this is a startling blow to Democrats. Bayh is a liberal who successfully wears moderate drag. He was a shortlist candidate for Obama's VP, seems to have decent national recognition, and is certainly a household name in his home state. Also, given that Obama carried Indiana in 2008 this exemplifies how drastic the political winds have shifted. Not only was Bayh being challenged in a primary by former Sen. Dan Coates, but he was seen as vulnerable by the GOP and a spectrum of GOP veterans were entering the fray to dislodge him. Several themes seem to be emerging in the 2010 cycle. Incumbency is no longer a strong asset, name recognition may be as much of a vice as a virtue, and while a few GOP top dogs are steeping down, it looks like the head winds are decisively anti-Democratic. Is that the legacy of Obama's first year in office? Becoming Democrat kryptonite?

UPDATE: Over at The Corner, some speculate that Bayh may launch a primary bid against Obama. The werewolf thinks not, but stranger things have happened.

CORRECTION: Dan Coates is a Republican who will be running for the soon to be vacated senate seat. There was no Democrat primary challenger to Bayh.


  1. Good post. Thanks!

    In fairness to Bayh, he has been bipartisan and moderate in comparison to the rest of the Democratic Senators outside of the years 2006-2008, when he was preparing to run in the Democratic primary. I haven't looked at the numbers to determine how vulnerable he was, but he has cited frustration with the rest of the Democrats in Congress.

    I agree it is unlikely he'll run against Obama. The liberals in his party's base often call him a neo-con. That just gives you an idea of how extreme that base can be.

  2. I say he'll make primary-like noises, end up not running out of "loyalty," support Obama in the same way Bill Clinton supported Kerry, and then run in 2016 against whoever's either the incumbent Republican or Biden.

  3. I mis-typed earlier: I meant his record from 2006-2007 was liberal.

    Jay Cost's piece about Bayh's retirement was decent. Every liberal I know who pays close attention to politics calls him a Republican. I don't see how he could ever win the Democratic nomination for president. To his credit, he isn't delusional and seems to grasp this.

    I think Bayh has done more good by retiring and sending a signal than he could have by remaining a US Senator. So whatever his true motivations may be, I think he has probably done a good thing.