Friday, July 9, 2010
Friday Hodge Podge: A Look Ahead to 2012
By Jon E. Easter
Editor's Note: The following post is based on what is being discussed in the political world. Unless specifically stated, nothing should be considered more than speculation.
While there are still eons to go politically until 2012, the options for top level Indiana political leaders seem to be wide open, and much depends on what Senator Richard Lugar and Senator Evan Bayh do.
There has been much speculation that the longtime Indiana Senator, in line to become President Pro Tempore of the Senate if the Republicans are able to get control of the Senate back in November, may hang it up and head to his tree farm full time. If Lugar does decide to do that, it will set up an interesting battle between political titans that all politicos will be watching.
First of all, you have the race for Indiana Governor. With Mitch Daniels term limited on the Republican side, it sets up a race for Governor with lots of ambitious people and no sacred cows. Pence, Richard Mourdock, Becky Skillman, Todd Rokita, and a host of other Republicans such I haven’t even mentioned may ultimately create a nasty primary. That field could get shorter if Lugar retires, you would figure that some of those names would be interested in a run for Senate.
Of course the biggest names, Pence and Daniels, might be able to elbow out the field, but their plans may be larger than just the state. Pence and Daniels are both sticking their toes in to test the 2012 Presidential waters, too. Pence is set to address Iowa Republicans in October while Daniels continues to deny he’s running but is raising money for his PAC.
Things could be a lot neater or even as messy on the Democratic side.
The Democrats will wait for Evan Bayh’s plans. CQ Politics already is saying that he's running for Governor, but I cannot confirm that. With Barack Obama presumably taking a shot at a second term, Bayh will have to wait until at least 2016 for another Presidential run. That leaves him with a good shot at becoming Governor of Indiana again, should he decide to take a chance. A race between him and maybe a Mike Pence would probably be the most expensive race in Indiana history. If Bayh fails to run, that will open up a derby for Democrats. Congressman Baron Hill, State Senator Vi Simpson, Congressman Joe Donnelly, Former Secretary of State Joe Hogsett, Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez, Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott, Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel, Indiana Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker (see update below), and many others have been mentioned as at least interested in the job. Simpson (in 2004), Dominguez and Weinzapfel have even campaigned a little.
For a potential Senate opening in ‘12, you can probably expect some of those same names just mentioned to consider a run. I’m also hearing some speculation has centered around the plans of former Congressional candidate and Indiana Health Commissioner Woody Myers. He has been making amends for his 7th District run against the slated Andre Carson in the 2008 May Primary, and he definitely has the kind of cash needed for a statewide run. Myers could also be thinking about a challenge for the Governor’s Office, too.
Of course, Lugar could run again in 2012, and that changes everything. The Indiana Republican is nearly unbeatable because he draws broad support from Republicans and even some Democrats. Lugar could see an attempted coup from within his own party, however, due to his somewhat moderate reputation. If the Tea Party is still around then, look for Lugar to get a challenge from within his party. I doubt it will be successful.
It’s still way too early to look at things more critically, but it looks like politicos watching the 2010 and 2011 races will be plenty entertained through 2012.
Mark Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker off your list. In an e-mail to me today, he said that, while he is proud of his tenure as party chair, he has no plans in running for the office of Governor or anything, for that matter. "If there ever was a disqualifier for public office in Indiana, it is being a Party Chair," said Parker.
Thanks to Chairman Parker for the read, and I appreciate his candid response.