Bayh’s Retirement Not Hurting Democrats As Much As Most Think It Will

After absorbing the news from every outlet on earth yesterday, even our own editor’s take, on the “surprise” retirement of Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh, I have to say that analysts are not considering all the “good” that can come from his retirement from the U.S. Senate.  It seems that everyone predicts a Republican to pick up his seat in November.  Lately, I have been among the few to see some things that ebb against the accepted flow in analyzing races and situations.  This is another such ebb.

I think the reason that Bayh waited until Presidents’ Day to announce his retirement was to prevent someone relatively unknown, like Tamyra d’Ippolito, from garnering the nomination without a primary election AND without their seal of approval by collecting the requisite signatures necessary to get on the primary ballot.  The Democrats have an opportunity to select a candidate, since it seems that d’Ippolito did not achieve the 4500 signatures necessary to get on the ballot.  If she had, that is the WORST CASE SCENARIO for Democrats.  By waiting, Bayh almost assured that the state Democrat Party could spend time vetting, choosing and fundraising for someone “moderate” enough to win the state, but “progressive” enough to fully support the agenda of the party for the next six years.  While d’Ippolito likely fills out the latter, there is no chance she can accommodate the former.

It seems, based on claims by d’Ippolito herself about the “machine” squashing her interview with Rachel Maddow last night, that Democrats figured out that her candidacy was the worst thing that could happen in the wake of Bayh’s retirement announcement yesterday.  Keeping her from walking away with the Democratic nomination is in the best interest of their party for the midterm election, because that almost assures that no matter which of the five Republicans wins the GOP nomination, keeping the race for Bayh’s seat competitive.

On the other side of things, Republicans can seize this opportunity to point out that Democrat party leadership hand-picked a candidate, rather than letting the people of Indiana decide.  They can also use Bayh’s retirement to their advantage, praising him for his retirement, paying special attention to his reasons for retiring.  The most politically advantageous being that the liberal agenda of the Democrats drove one of the most popular Indiana politicians away from a ”dysfunctional” Congress.  In this case, especially with the rise of the Tea Party movement, Republicans would do well in picking a liberty-minded candidate, like Marlin Stutzman, over an establishment Republican, in Dan Coats, whose absence from the state since retiring to avoid then-Governor Bayh in 1998 will likely put off many Hoosier voters.  It also does not help that he was an ambassador to Germany under George W. Bush, but the fact that he was a DC lobbyist after time in Germany will turn off those recently “awakened” to politics.  Though his endorsement may not mean as much in the Midwest as it does in his home state of Georgia, Erick Erickson of RedState has already publicly announced a donation to Stutzman’s campaign.

I agree with the Rothenberg Political Report that this race is now a “toss up,” unless d’Ippolito miraculously makes it to Indianapolis with 4500 signatures in hand.


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