Friday, July 22, 2016

Future Remains Bright for Bayh with November Win

Evan Bayh
No surprise, but Evan Bayh was chosen by the Indiana Democratic Party Central Committee to fill the ballot vacancy created when Baron Hill pulled out of the U.S. Senate race on July 11.

Bayh, the son of former U.S. Senator and Hoosier legend, Birch Bayh, will now appear on the ballot on November 8.  Republican Todd Young and Libertarian Lucy Brenton will be Bayh's two opponents.

It's the latest move in Bayh's Hoosier political journey.

At the age of 30, Bayh was elected Secretary of State in 1986. Two years later at just 32, he was elected Governor of Indiana defeating popular Lieutenant Governor, John Mutz. Bayh was reelected in a landslide in 1992 defeating Attorney General Linley Pearson.  After he served two terms, he handed off the reins of state government to one-time rival turned good friend, Frank O'Bannon in 1996.

After keynoting the 1996 Democratic National Convention, Bayh became a national name.  At the age of just 42, he was elected to the U.S. Senate by a wide margin over Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke.  By building a carefully crafted moderate record in the Senate, Bayh became a common name on the Vice Presidential vetting list in 2000 and 2004 and was nearly selected by President Barack Obama in 2008 to be his running mate.  He even toyed with running for President on his own in 2008.

Bayh was to stand for reelection in 2010, and the early polls showed that he was going to be in a tough fight.  Citing family concerns and frustration over the climate of Washington politics, Bayh withdrew from the Senate race.  For the first time in a long time, Bayh was a private citizen.

In moves that enraged some Democrats, Bayh took a job with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and worked as a lobbyist.  He also became a contributor on Fox News Channel.  Just last year, purchased a new house in Georgetown, D.C. while reportedly keeping a home in Indiana as well.

Bayh passed on runs for Governor in 2012 and 2016, and he seemed to be on the road to elder statesmanship until, at the age of 60, he decided to reenter politics and run for his old Senate seat again in a move that shocked the Hoosier political world.

He released his first ad just last week, and the early returns are encouraging. A poll released this week by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee showed Bayh with a 21-point lead on Young.  That brings us to today's news.

It's a new chapter in Bayh's storied career.

In writing this new chapter, Bayh now has a chance to prove to Hoosiers and perhaps even the nation at large that he still has much to offer in his political life.  After all, he could conceivably still run for President or find himself a major player in politics for the next 20 years by Richard Lugar's clock.

If Bayh is elected in November, it will be interesting to see where he places himself politically this time.  It will also be interesting to see if he begins angling for 2024 when, at the age of 68, he could still run for President.

Yes, there's still an abundance of political life left in this Indiana legend.

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