OK, quick recap for those who have been living under a rock (then how did you end up here?!?). Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) announced today that he would not seek reelection, basically because he’s sick of Congress (can’t argue with him there). He seemed likely to win reelection, although being a Dem in a red state this year the Reps had a decent shot at picking it up. With his exit, there’s a better road to hitting 50 seats for the Republican party, something that’s not going to make the Dems happy. Even weirder, the deadline for filing signatures to get on the primary ballot is tomorrow, and it appears likely that there will be no one on for the Dems*. Assuming that’s the case**, the Dems will hold a caucus to choose their candidate.
Now, let’s look at this from a Dem’s perspective. This isn’t necessarily a lost cause for them like, say, Arkansas or N Dakota is. After all, the Rep candidate is going to be either a has been (Coats), a guy who can’t campaign (Hostetler), or a nobody (Stutzman). Meanwhile, they’d get to hand pick their candidate. And while some on the Right are claiming that the caucus format would lead to a loony Lefty getting nominated, that’s not really the case. The people doing the nomination will be smart, politically active, motivated folks, and they’ll choose someone who’s at least viable. To the Dem perspective, this is still a winnable seat. And so they will choose a candidate who gives them a good chance to win.
And who will that candidate be? The popular suggestion is Brad Ellsworth. Baron Hill and Joe Donnelly have also been mentioned. Why these three? Well, they all have a lot in common: they’re all in Congress, all representing moderate to conservative districts, and all claim to be fairly moderate themselves. While other names have come up, the biggest have either already declined (former Gov Joe Kernan) or are in India (former Rep Tim Roemer). So chances are, it’s going to be one of the three Congressmen.
Oh, they all have one other thing in common: they all voted for the Health Care bill.
Now, in terms of the Senate race, that’s an obvious boon to the Reps. Dems will still believe that they can win despite that, and maybe they can if the Rep is sufficiently weak. But it’s going to hurt them and they know it. All three of them are most likely going to have to go out of their way to explain the vote or at least make it irrelevent. All three of them want it to go away, even if only for their own election bids in their own districts.
How likely are they to want the health care debate to continue? How likely are they to vote for it again if Pelosi brings it back up?
Voting for the Health Care bill once before the Massachusettes miracle is one thing, but voting for it again? That would kill their chances in a red state like Indiana. Ellsworth, at least, has a ready-made excuse: he’s pro-life, and could claim the lack of the Stupak amendment in the Senate bill is enough to change his mind. In any case, if only one of them is going to run for the Senate, only one is certain to be a no vote. But if all three are running, and Pelosi tries to schedule a vote beforehand? Likely, she’ll lose all three.
Given how razor thin the margin was the first time, Pelosi has no room for error here. Of course, it was unlikely that she could pull it off in the first place, but this just made it one vote harder.
* I know some Republicans are trying to push the Z-list candidate D’Ippolito across the line, which would automatically make her the candidate (no caucus can be held if it’s not a complete vacancy). Even though I might still know some people in the 8th district (where she needs her signatures), I’m not going to help. I don’t believe in getting involved in other party’s primaries, and I don’t think it’s right to try to gain the system to give the general populace LESS of a choice. Democracy works best when the people have real choices, and I’m not going to try to limit people’s choices simply because Sen. Bayh was a day early in his announcement. That said, democracy REALLY works best when the rules are followed, so if D’Ippolito does make it in I hope there’s no shenanigans to dump her.
** Anyone know what Indiana’s laws are for Independents? It wouldn’t surprise me if, assuming D’Ippolito does make it, an establishment Dem tries to run as an “Independent.” That would just make it harder for them, of course, but at least it means the seat won’t be a Safe R.