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Bye, Bayh

PH2010020402919.jpgWondering what Indiana Democrats will do now that they don't have Evan Bayh to kick them around anymore? Well, it's a bit complicated. What's interesting about Bayh's decision isn't just that Bayh doesn't seem to want to hold his seat anymore, but that the timing suggests he also doesn't want the Democrats to hold his seat anymore.

Bayh dropped out days before the filing deadline, which means no other Democrat in the state is likely to have time to replace him through normal channels. As Dave Weigel explains, that means that party leaders in Indiana will probably choose his replacement. But the new candidate will have a tougher time of it: Bayh spent the past few months raising money and cornering support. If he'd made this decision sooner, his replacement could've spent that time raising money and cornering support.

Instead, he'll start by being chosen through a process Republicans will paint as a backroom deal and then he'll have to hit up donors who already gave money to Bayh thinking that was how they would keep the seat in the Democratic column. The difficulty of that process, plus the darkening outlook for the midterm elections, will probably make it harder for Democrats to recruit a top-tier candidate for the race.

Photo credit: Alex Brandon/AP.

By Ezra Klein  |  February 15, 2010; 2:03 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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So Bayh has raised 13 million bucks for a race he won't run. What happens to all that dough?

Posted by: rjewett | February 15, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

" What's interesting about Bayh's decision isn't just that Bayh doesn't seem to want to hold his seat anymore, but that the timing suggests he also doesn't want the Democrats to hold his seat anymore."

that's nice.

with leaders like these, who needs enemies.
extremely disheartening.

Posted by: jkaren | February 15, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

"So Bayh has raised 13 million bucks for a race he won't run. What happens to all that dough?"

there must be some food banks, shelters and clinics around the rusted out, toxic lagoon that once was continental steel, that could use bayh's campaign chest.
i am sure he is going to donate it to help all of the unemployed people there, during these cold and harsh winter months.

Posted by: jkaren | February 15, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

mr fiscal responsibility, mr moral high ground, mr do-it-the=right-way evan bayh takes his campaign money and runs

Posted by: jamesoneill | February 15, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Over the past year, as I've watch the dynamic between our two major parties play out, I've come to the belief that the Reagan Narrative -- that the GOP is the party of strong national defense, smaller governmental influence, individual liberty, free markets, and optimism, while the Democrats are a bunch of feckless, loser, black lesbian mothers on welfare -- still arches over our political landscape. (Memo to Rick Perlstein: the obvious follow-up to "Nixonland" is "Reaganland.") Until the political class that came of age under this narrative dies out -- anyone registered to vote before, say, 1992 -- then we're going to wallow in this horrifying, dysfunctional cesspool of Daddy party vs. Mommy party.

In my view, this traces back to 1984 (the first election in which I voted), when Reagan won 49 out of 50 states, an unthinkable achievement today. The Republicans interpreted this as a victory for their ideology. The Democrats, too, interpreted this as a victory for Republican ideology, and internalized it. All else -- the rise of Bill Clinton, impeachment, the 2000 Florida recount, George W. Bush, Obama's passivity -- flows from that high-water mark of conservatism.

We'll have to wait for a new generation of politician to emerge, one that doesn't remember Reagan at all.

Posted by: scarlota | February 15, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I dont know that I'd assign sinister intent here, maybe Evan Bayh really did decide he doesnt want to be in the Senate anymore. Who can blame him?

Further, I think its irrelevant when he dropped out. There's little chance of the Democrats holding this seat in Indiana in 2010, when they surely will get thrashed in the red states. It wouldnt have changed the basic fact of that if Bayh had announced he wasnt running last fall or this morning.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | February 15, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

The discussion about Bayh's fundraising, the difficulty the Democratic candidate will have raising money, and the consequences in getting a top-tier candidate for the race only strengthen the argument for public campaign financing.

It's pathetic enough that our elected officials have to spend so much time fundraising. It's a tragedy for our democracy that someone who might be a great candidate won't run because someone else--in the same party moreover--already raised a lot of money.

Posted by: dasimon | February 15, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

First response when I heard this was: absolutely mendacious. And absolutely typical, too, I suppose. Bayh's biggest problem, and this is no secret in Indiana, is that he is simply not very bright. He was always just the son of a senator, and that was what his political career was based on. But he would easily have held onto that seat.

Posted by: JJenkins2 | February 15, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

"Take the money and run" (lalalala)

Bayh might have retained his seat, but he'd have to say something that Dems and Indep. would be attracted to. What would that be? "We need more bipartisanship in Congress"?

There are only two others I'd be more happy to see out of the Sen. as "Dems": LIEberman, and B. Nelson. The party is better off without Bayh, the husband of Wellpoint board member Bayh. The only difference between the wife and husband is that the taxpayers directly pay for the husband and indirectly pay for the wife. Evan Bayh is only the dim-bulb son of a good type of Dem. for Indiana, his father Birch.

I don't think a Dem can win Indiana in 2010 with the tea party right going berserk. Maybe no Dem on the ballot would take away some ammo before they put it in the gun. I sort of like the idea of the GOP having to choose between crazy and supercrazy without a straw man to beat up.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | February 15, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Hmm...the Democrats get to pick a (potentially) strong candidate without a primary; the Republicans are stuck with the (weak) candidates who have already filed to run.

That hardly seems like "the timing suggests he also doesn't want the Democrats to hold his seat anymore." It seems like more or less the best outcome for Democrats, assuming Bayh himself doesn't run.

No matter what, Bayh retiring is going to tilt the seat heavily towards the Republicans. But wouldn't it be much worse if Mike Pence was running instead of unpopular has-beens like Dan Coats?

Sure, there's no primary, and the new Democratic candidate is in a weaker position than he might have been. But to talk about that without taking into consideration the fact that Bayh's decision *also* means the Republicans get a weaker candidate seems unfair.

Posted by: jlk7e | February 15, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Actually, by getting out at the last minute he has locked in two fairly weak candidates for the GOP - Dan Coats and John Hostettler. Either Brad Ellsworth or Baron Hill on the Democratic side would be credible, competitive candidates. So it's a tossup, though if the national climate doesn't improve for the Dems then it'll probably go GOP.

Posted by: Isa8686 | February 15, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Funny that in 2008 Bayh's name was seriously kicked around by some as a potential running mate for Obama, and now he goes and does this.

He'll make his fortune as a corporate lobbyist, and he probably already has a job all lined up. I for one won't miss him at all in the Senate, even if his seat does go Republican again in the Fall - it will make very little difference, since he so often took an "outlier" position on important issues.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 15, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Another politician looking to cash-out.

Future generations will p-ss on his grave someday.

Good riddance to the representative from WellPoint. The good that he did was never sufficient to overcome his venality.

Posted by: JPRS | February 15, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Of course he doesn't want a Democrat in his the conservative as the welt of the Bible belt. Full of people on SSI whining about government intrusion to their KKK rallies.

Posted by: wdague | February 15, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the timing makes it easier for another Dem to win the seat. The GOP is stuck with carpetbagger Coats or the right winger. The Teabaggers would never vote for Coats and the Good Government Republicans would desert the right winger who is a weak campaigner. The Republicans were not planning on spending a lot on this race anyway. This takes the incumbency issue off the table and puts them in a difficult spot.

The Dems will run a strong candidate. The press does such a poor job covering primary races that parties end up with losers like the guy Illinois elected who had to withdraw and it makes the party look bad. The party will have to put up the best possible candidate to have a good shot at winning. I would prefer Donnely but any of our Congressmen would be OK.

Posted by: bakho | February 15, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Keep it up liberal Democrats: you'll be the minority party in no time. Pure as the driven snow but out of power. Geez how clueless can folks be politically. America is a centrist nation, not liberal or conservative

Posted by: craig18 | February 16, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Its funny that many commenters don't like the idea of someone tied to the insurance industry (Bayh) having a role in the goverment - suggesting there is a conflict of interest. Yet many of these same people are probably supporters of the goverment getting into the health insurance business. Riddle me this: If it is bad to combine running the goverment with running health insurance, why does it matter in what sequence these roles are taken on?

Posted by: chris_rowen | February 16, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

What a ridiculous headline. Once again our commentators assuming with no substance, sensationalizing and bringing the constant negativity to the Democratic Party.
Bayh was more republican than Democrat. His refusal to stand strong on any policies, wishy washy beliefs, and, supporting the republicans in many of their hypocritical stances left much to be desired. I say, good riddance, and let's get a Democrat in that truly supports the party and our stance for middle class, less fortunate, women, senior citizens and veterans. Goodbye for blue dog democrats.

Posted by: kathlenec | February 16, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Both parties are having problems with the extreme ideologues trying to control policy and message. Whether it's Nancy-Harry or Rush-Palin, both sides are handicapped by their own wingnuts. The Republican advantage? They're a year ahead of the Democrats in the process of trying to rebuild unity. They Republicans know something has to change because they've been slaughtered in the election booth. Democratic Leadership still believes that an extreme left speaker from San Francisco can speak to concerns of unemployed workers in the suburbs than someone like Evan Bayh. Reid and Pelosi are in power and don't believe they're doing anything wrong. Until they're FORCED to change their closed-door, iron-fisted partisan management, they won't.

Then there's weak leadership. Steele, for what it's worth, is standing up to the right-wing and taking his hits for it. Steele is making headlines. Steele is visible. Where's Tim Kaine? Apparently hiding out in Cheney's old hole after losing his home state to a Republican sweep, failing to control his own rebel senator (Mark Warner) and totally missing the boat in Massachusetts.

Democrats will have to take more devastating losses before they dump the extremists like Pelosi and Reid who believe that "bipartisanship" means inviting one Republican and 12 Democrats on a fact-finding mission, or that "transparency" means writing a Health Care Bill behind close doors, excluding ALL Republicans and any Democrats they don't like (Bayh), turning off the CSPAN cameras and emerging 6 months later with a bill so long that nobody could possibly read it intelligently, and hoping for a blind vote.

Surprise! Maybe there is intelligent life in Congress.

Posted by: mwcob | February 16, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

From reading comments - there's no hope for the Democrats soon. They're not catching on.

We need a third party like Likud. If we take all the moderate Republicans like Collins, Chafee or Snowe, merged them with Mark Warner, Evan Bayh and Mark Pryor - you'd have a party that could hold power for decades.

Posted by: mwcob | February 16, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Correction - make that Kadima, not Likud.

Posted by: mwcob | February 16, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Bayh was under terrible pressure this year. His constituents did not want him to vote for the jobs killing Obama agenda, but he was getting constant communications from Rahm Emanuel demanding he do so. Only a police restraining order could have helped on that. He seems very angry at the administration.

Posted by: truck1 | February 16, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I sensed from Bayh that he was pretty steamed that he was not chosen VP and not the natural leading light for Democrats in the Senate. His life as the son of Birch Bayh means he is used to a charmed existence while on this planetary plane. But, just a political nitwit with an opinion like most of us.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | February 16, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

The GOP will break all records set in 1994 in 2010. Polling data is simply out of this world.

Kudos to Chris Christie for firing the first shot on Government unions....The people of New Jersey stand behind him as well as the rest of Americans.

It's time to take down the fat union contracts and bring in common sense spending...

We here at the Headquarters of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy have a plan in place which we are executing to take down Big Labor, Big Unions, AFL-CIO, NEA, SEIU and many other unions....'s going to be absolutely beautiful...

stay tuned...

Posted by: charko825 | February 16, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Bayh and his dad had very simple midwestern values not too different from the Tea Party platform. It didn't take much for most moderate, similar thinking Dems to realize, after the SOTU speech, that Obama wouldn't change his disastrous pro-union, pro-government, and anti-business approach to policy, and that Obama was, in truth, a radical ideologue. This may be fine for the radical Progressives; thank God they are only 10% of the electorate.

Posted by: apberusdisvet | February 16, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Why is there no article on Rashad Hussain on WaPo? His supportive comments of a convicted terrorist supporter and the white-washing of the articles that prove it are very suspect. The author of the article has come out and stated that she did not misquote him and that she is pulling her notes to prove it. The WH has tried to cleanse the record of an extremist terrorist supporter who is currently serving as council to the WH and has just been promoted to a special envoy position.

Posted by: tbastian | February 16, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

You are missing the obvious, Ezra'
Didn't you actually listen to Bayh?
If mass. is not a wake up call????
Political Correctness,
and Spending Spending,
did I say CCrraazzyy Gov. Spending?!!
Its all about to end.
Wake Up Ezra!
You and maddow and olberman are going
to be on suicide watch.

Posted by: simonsays1 | February 16, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Three comments:
1) If this is the case then the Dems are good to have him leave.
2) If this is true then he lied to his constituents so if he has plans running for another office then it should be noted he lies.
3) This pic makes the guy look like his teeth are rotting out of his head on the left side! The guy needs a dentist!

Posted by: Shingo56 | February 16, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Don't see how this changes balance of power even if seat goes to GOP. He was not a strong supporter of the Dems anyway. But sadly he pretty much made sure they lost the seat. If he was worried about bipartisanship, he sure showed it in a strange way. If house changes hands, will that help?. Just insures nothing gets done for another 2 years. I have given up on GOP, they voted for every spending bill that Bush wanted. Now out of office 12 months they suddenly get religion....who do they think they are fooling. I want America to succeed. Not Dems not Reps. but America. Compromise on both sides and move America long or you may be moved along right out of that comfortable seat. This means you BOTH PARTIES.

Posted by: patisok | February 16, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Another Rat Over-Board!

Posted by: sdavis4 | February 16, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Keep it up liberal/progressive Democrat bloggers: the Dems will be the minority party in no time. Pure as the driven snow but out of power. Geez how clueless can folks be politically. America is a centrist nation, not liberal or conservative.
People don't want Nancy Pelosi or Eric Cantor. They want someone in the middle and for there to be bipartisan cooperation. And cooperation is like Kennedy and Hatch used to do it and Kennedy/Enzi. If you agree on 10things, you write a bill including those. Then you haggle out the rest, each side gets to veto a couple of the other's ideas and you 60/40 the rest.

Posted by: craig18 | February 16, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

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