Monday, December 13, 2010
Evan Bayh Takes Millions, Goes Home
No one in the State of Indiana is more politically astute than Evan Bayh.
Bayh has spent his entire career carefully positioning himself as a centrist moderate with Republican and Democratic views. He has equally po'd staunch conservatives and raving liberals. That includes this blogger, and I've been critical of him for a long time.
In taking his name out of the running for a third term as Indiana's Junior Senator, Bayh probably saw the writing on the wall. Rather than running a race that he might have won, he decided to step aside. On the way out, he bashed many on both sides of the aisle for being too partisan and not getting things done in the name of the people.
Many, including this blogger, took the smoke signals and rumors that others had been told to stand down runs for Governor of Indiana in 2012 to mean that Bayh was more than interested in running for Governor. Well, this weekend, Bayh took the high road again and has decided to pull the plug on a run at the state's highest executive office.
When Bayh pulled out of the Senate race, he left Democrats with little time to pick a candidate. Instead, party insiders settled on Congressman Brad Ellsworth. It was a decision I didn't like at first, but, after meeting the Congressman on several occasions, I warmed up to. This decision seems similar and different at the same time.
Bayh, by pulling out of the Gubernatorial race, seems to be leaving the field open for a big GOP name to sweep in from Washington and put his stamp right on the early prognostications. That man is Mike Pence. Of course, Congressman Pence can't decide what the hell he wants to run for, and his legislative record looks pretty thin despite all those years in Congress. He's a good talker, though, and he can speak Hoosier. He's a darling of the far right, and Indiana seems to have snapped back to that this past election giving Republicans huge majorities in the House and Senate.
For teachers, union leaders, and others, Bayh seemed like a hope in the distance. That his millions could somehow buy back the office for Democrats. The most liberal of my friends hated the idea of a Bayh run, and I, frankly, would have had to warm up to it. I would have, though. I'm a forgiving person, and I can see what being a Democrat in a statewide Indiana race means. It requires more moderation. Anyway, Bayh's withdrawal from the race now puts that same feeling I had back in my gut from February. I'm mad as heck.
The only reason I can think of that Bayh isn't running is that he doesn't think he can win, and that has to scare Hoosier Democrats. If a guy like Evan Bayh doesn't think he can win, then the statewide landscape for D's is very bad.
Yes, there is a bench. Yes, it is a winnable office. Maybe Bayh feels that he needs to spend some time with Susan and his boys. I can respect that, but I just get the feeling that there's more to it. Then again, more people know Evan better than I do.
For now, it appears that Bayh's once bright star has dimmed a bit. At one point, he seemed to be a shoo-in for a try at a major national executive office, but, out of the limelight, will he be able to keep up his profile? What happens for him in 2016? I guess we'll know when we get there.
One thing is for sure. After eight years of Emperor Daniels, Indiana can't afford four years of Mike Pence or anyone else from the GOP.