An Iowa Boost for Bayh
Who said good policy doesn't -- sometimes -- make for good politics?
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who is "considering" (wink, wink) a presidential bid in 2008, got a very nice boost Monday when a group of Iowa state legislators introduced an education plan based on the "21st Century Scholars" program Bayh shepherded to passage during his tenure as Indiana governor.
Introduced by state Rep. Janet Petersen (D) and state Sen. Jeff Danielson (D), the plan would ask 7th and 8th grade students either living below the poverty line or in foster homes to sign a pledge vowing to remain crime, drug and tobacco free, and maintain a "C" average throughout high school.
In return, the students would be given free college tuition at any Iowa state university or community college. The legislation's future is unclear. Republicans control the state House 51 to 49 while the state Senate is split evenly between the parties.
Currently in her 3rd term representing a Democratic seat based in northwestern Des Moines, Petersen said she got the idea for the program after reading up on Bayh following his visit to the Hawkeye State over the summer.
Petersen invited Bayh back to the state for a fall fundraiser to benefit her campaign.
He agreed, and donated $500 from his All America leadership PAC to Petersen during the visit. Bayh was also Petersen's guest at a meet-and-greet lunch with a handful of Des Moines activists during that trip. Bayh, too, has given money to Danielson ($2,500 from All America in September) and was hosted by the state senator in August at another event with Democratic party regulars in Waterloo.
Bayh is clearly trying to carve a niche for himself as a leading contender in the "ideas primary" for the Democratic nomination, regularly using the "21st Century Scholars Program" as part of his stump speech to national audiences. Dan Pfeiffer, communications director in Bayh's Senate office, called the scholars program one of Bayh's "proudest achievements," adding that the senator "often talks about the need to replicate it across the country."
Bayh's main competition at the moment in the "ideas primary" is Iowa's favorite son -- Gov. Tom Vilsack. Vilsack has used his Heartland PAC Web site effectively to start an online policy conversation, building a grassroots community in the process.
Vilsack would likely sweep the Democratic caucuses if he runs, but Petersen argued that other aspiring candidates would be ill-served to cede Iowa to the governor. "People are expected that if he does run, the big news story out of [Iowa] is who is number two," she said.
Bayh seems likely to play in Iowa regardless of Vilsack's plans. A Midwesterner, Bayh has must make his stamp in nearby Iowa if he has any hopes in New Hampshire and beyond.
January 24, 2006; 8:33 AM ET
Categories: Democratic Party , Eye on 2008
Save & Share: Previous: NRSC's Elizabeth Dole Dismisses Corruption Issue
Next: Mont. Senate: Burns Ad Responds to Ethics Issue
Posted by: Gloria | May 19, 2006 8:36 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: lawrencedem | March 7, 2006 8:39 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: lawrencedem | March 7, 2006 8:37 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Josh | January 25, 2006 11:17 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: tl | January 25, 2006 11:10 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Leigh | January 24, 2006 9:35 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Josh | January 24, 2006 4:05 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Jake | January 24, 2006 3:11 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: tl | January 24, 2006 2:47 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Neville | January 24, 2006 12:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: If Vilsack runs.... | January 24, 2006 11:57 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Dean Moriarty | January 24, 2006 11:47 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Bobby Wightman-Cervantes | January 24, 2006 10:56 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Dean Moriarty | January 24, 2006 10:53 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: H_o_o_s_i_e_r_Ten | January 24, 2006 9:54 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: bp | January 24, 2006 8:37 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.