Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Coats Ready for 2016 Fight?

Senator Dan Coats
Matt Tully wrote a piece exploring the possibility of a Dan Coats reelection campaign for Senate in 2016 earlier this week in the Indianapolis Star.

Without a clear Democratic challenger, Coats is the easy front-runner for the job if he wants it again, but that will be the question for the then-to-be-73-year-old to answer.  Will Dan Coats want the job for another six years?

Coats was coaxed out of his post-legislative career as a lobbyist in 2010 and got a big boost when Evan Bayh decided to decline a likely third term in the Senate.  He faced Congressman Brad Ellsworth in a campaign that pretty much started and finished with him as the heavy frontrunner with the political wind at his back.  Ellsworth was a solid statewide candidate, but he suffered from a late start made necessary by Bayh's late exit.  Coats ran heavily on his foreign policy credentials and a more traditionally conservative domestic agenda.

It resonated, and he won by a landslide.  After a couple of quiet years, Coats has emerged and has worked his way back to the limelight in the Senate again.

It's hard to believe, but Coats, a conservative by ideology, finds himself to the left of the far right now in the Senate.  The current new guard Senator is so far to the right of Dan Coats that he must wonder where they came from.  Coats has never been a Richard Lugar-type moderate, but he's far from a wacky ideologue.  That's what he's seen invade the far right of his party in this new Cotton-Cruz-Ernst bunch.  

One must wonder if this might be a reason why someone like Coats would retire.  Perhaps a battle for the soul of the Senate with the far right is not something for an old hat like Coats.  Coats seems much better at ease when he's working with others than alone.  As the Senate moves further right, that keeps moving Coats, unbelievably, further left.  He was one of seven Senate Republicans that widely kept his name off that controversial Iran letter.

Dan Coats is someone I've never disliked, but he's someone that I've often disagreed with.  I still get the feeling that I could have a conversation with him, and I don't get that same kind of feeling with others in the U.S. Senate.  I think Coats has stepped very carefully in his second Senate go-around to protect that reputation.

If Coats steps away from the office, it will create a Republican civil war, and Democrats will no doubt scramble to pick up the pieces.  I would assume that several current U.S. Representatives would consider a Senate run, chief among those both Todds and Marlin, and I have no idea who the Democrats might find as it could come from somewhere in the Indiana legislature (I'd choose someone like Christina Hale).  Regardless, this race only becomes interesting if Coats isn't in it.

Unless Coats does something like declare his allegiance to the North Carolina Tar Heels, I'd say that he runs for another term in the Senate.  Frankly, Indiana, we could do a lot crazier on the "R" side of the aisle.

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