No primary in Indiana to replace Bayh--state party will choose Dem nominee

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 12:44


Evan Bayh's surprise retirement announcement comes only four days before the filing deadline for the Indiana primary.  Since Indiana requires Senate candidates to submit 500 signatures from each of the state's nine congressional districts (by tomorrow!), there is no feasible way for a new candidate to announce and gather the necessary signatures before the filing deadline.

So, this means that the only option left for Democrats in Indiana is for the state party to select a candidate.  As such, there will be no primary election:

R.J. Gerard, communications director for the Indiana Democratic Party confirmed to TPMDC that the state Democratic Party would be able to select a new candidate to run in November's general election if no one files petitions with 4,500 signatures (500 within each of the state's nine House districts) to run in the primary.

"I would imagine that it would be the plan, depending on what happens between now and Friday," Gerard said. Gerard did not know whether any discussions are going on with potential new candidates.

This means the Indiana Democrats would avoid holding a primary to choose who will be their nominee in the fall.

Who might the state party choose?  The Indiana bench, at least at the Congressional level, is weak.

They could go with Pete Visclosky, given that he has a decent amount of cash on hand and comes from a district (IN-01) that Democrats would not lose if he ran for Senate.  Problem is, Visclosky has a lot of corruption issues hanging over his head.

They could go with Baron Hill.  Problem is, polling shows Hill getting smacked pretty badly in his own district, so he might not be viable.

They could go with Andre Carson, but would Indiana really be the first state to put a Muslim in the Senate?  Doesn't feel like a red state in 2010 is when that barrier will be broken.

So, among Indiana Congressman, this basically leaves Joe Donnelly by default.  This would not be very exciting, given that Donnelly is one of the most conservative members of the Democratic House caucus.  His lifetime Progressive Punch score on crucial votes is only 33.78%, ranking him 245 out of the 255 current Democratic members of the House.

Anyway, given the anti-Washington mood, it is probably a good idea for the Indiana state party to look outside of the Congressional delegation.  Hopefully, they can find a Mayor or State Senator in the mold of Eric Massa or Alan Grayson.  Anti-financial institution and anti-bailout rhetoric is probably the best chance Democrats have in red districts this year.  Also, Massa and Grayson also happen to be the only two members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus from lean-Republican districts.  They have the only proven model for Progs in Republican districts.

Update--another Democrat already in the race: There is an existing candidate, Tamyra d'Ippolito.  She has 23 followers on Twitter, 2 donations on Act Blue, and a pretty bare bones campaign website.  She hasn't collected the signatures to get on the ballot yet, and I doubt that she will given what appears to be a very small organization.  But, if she did somehow get on the ballot, the Democratic Party would probably have to defeat her in a write-in campaign.  Otherwise, she would be the nominee, and Republicans would cruise in the general election.

Kind of makes me wonder if Republicans will start helping her get on the ballot now..

Update 2--Dem strategists leaning toward Brad Ellsworth:  A member of Congress I forgot about, Brad Ellsworth, is being floated by Democratic strategists:

Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) is the early name Dem strategists are throwing around. He easily beat ex-Rep. John Hostettler (R) in '06 to capture a centrist district, and he has cut a moderate swath in his 2 terms in the House.

Its true that Ellsworth defeated Hostettler.  However, Hostettler is not a strong candidate.  If Hostettler were to win the Republican primary, the seat would be very winnable for Democrats.

There are three problems with Ellsworth: he is in D.C., his House seat would be taken over by a Republican, and he is just as right-wing as Donnelly.

They need to pick someone from outside of D.C. who is willing to go after financial institutions.  That is the model right now.

Chris Bowers :: No primary in Indiana to replace Bayh--state party will choose Dem nominee

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I Don't Think (4.00 / 3)
the Indiana state party will pick the nominee. I think Rahm will, and it will be another election like the recent MA election: Progressives will stay home then, and a Republican will get elected. No one is in the mood for DLC, Obama/Rahm corporation candidates, and I don't think it bothers Obama if he has a Republican majority. He seems to prefer Reagan to FDR, anyway.

Like progressives would rush out for Bayh? (0.00 / 0)
He's the one senator that has no base.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
Progressives weren't turning out for Bayh (0.00 / 0)
and he was 20 points ahead in polls.  

[ Parent ]
Last I recall... (0.00 / 0)
MA Dems picked the MA Senate candidate, not Rahm.

And ditto what the other posters said... Progressives weren't the ones giving Bayh a 20 point lead in he polls.


[ Parent ]
Let's not believe in fairy tales about independent Dems.... (4.00 / 1)
...willing to go against the clear whishes of the effing WH chief of staff, if not the damn president himself! If Rahm weighs in, this surre will at least haave an impact on the decision.

And, btw, even if really only MA Dems picked the MA Senate candidate, we're talking about IN Dems and the US Senator from IN here, right?


[ Parent ]
Wow, and people get mad at me for saying voters are stupid? (0.00 / 0)
But apparently they're just stupid/sheepish enough to go along with whatever Rahm says, and no one bats an eye at this analysis.  Why, it even gets uprated!

And FWIW, I had no idea that the administration had picked anyone in the Dem primary... Was this common knowledge? That seems extremely unlikely.


[ Parent ]
Rahm has a long record of influencing primary decisions. (0.00 / 0)
Time and again he supported establishment candidates with millions, giving them an advantage over more progressive Dems. That's not really a secret. So, sry leshrac, but I can't really see what's your point?

[ Parent ]
Signatures have to be in by tomorrow... (0.00 / 0)
...even thought he filing deadline is Friday.

Not going to happen.

You forgot the leading candidate... Brad Ellsworth.  He's been seeing higher office for some time.  With a damaged Coates in an open seat race, this may be his best chance at something better.  Baron hill has shown interest in governor.  He's interested in moving up, too... and I'd ignore that FDL poll of him in his district... it's bunk...

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


Does anyone know the politics of the Bloomington gal? (4.00 / 1)
If she's progressive, progressives should rally to her cause getting her signatures.

I don't really want another centrist butthead being picked by the party machine.

John McCain won't insure children


You've got 28 hours... go get 'em! (4.00 / 1)


REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
She sounds pretty progressive... (4.00 / 1)
... on her website, especially to the left of Bayh on HCR and economic justice.

Her website is pretty awful though, with black text on a dark blue background.

http://tamyraforsenate.com/

John McCain won't insure children


[ Parent ]
If she were to win the primary.... (0.00 / 0)
...she'd be crushed like an ant.  No money... no organization.... nothing...  

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
I'm afraid you are correct (4.00 / 1)
sorry Tammy.

John McCain won't insure children

[ Parent ]
Maybe, maybe not (0.00 / 0)
Stranger things have happened in politics. Even if she lost, if she's good, she could become a figure in statewide politics, with benefits down the line. See Ned Lamont. It would be nice to have a Dem newcomer I could get enthusiastic about.

[ Parent ]
From a TPMDC commenter.... (4.00 / 4)
"Sadly, I have to agree she may get killed if she is the candidate. She is very earnest and liberal, but one of her Facebook posts from 3 days ago says "I am having trouble with my computer so I am going to the library every day.""

Talk about shoestring campaigns.

John McCain won't insure children


[ Parent ]
How did Patty Murray win? (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Murray won because she was in the right place at the right time.... (4.00 / 1)
The standard candidates who should have run and won were either suffering from low support numbers or were buried in scandal.

Patty was prepared for the possibility and had an resulting intense level of support from women involved in previous campaigns.  In a sense, while women were given equal representation at the officer level in the 1970s in the Washington State Democratic Party, Patty's was the first major campaign where it was seen as a "one of their own" campaign.  


[ Parent ]
It is my understanding that for her to qualify in the primary.... (0.00 / 0)
....she needs DEM signatures, not just joe schmoe signatures...

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


Well, there have to be some registered Dems in IN (4.00 / 2)
And if Dean's 50 state org was still in place, there would be enough activists and addresses to pull off such a stunt. But with the new, improved DNC prolly not.

[ Parent ]
The NRA is endorsing Hostetler, BTW.... (4.00 / 1)
...and supposedly running attack ads against Coats for not being crazy enough on guns in the 90's.

I think the Republican primary gets very hot with Bayh gone... the teabaggers will feel more free to pick the guy they REALLY want!

It's not over, yet!

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


Here are some ideas (4.00 / 2)
Considering the example of Walter Mondale as a replacement after the late Paul Wellstone, I think that a veteran politician who previously achieved high office might be a likely choice in this situation.

There's former governor Joe Kernan.  Former Congresswoman Jill Long Thompson, who was blown out by Mitch Daniels in the 2008 governor's race. Former Lt. Governor Kathy Davis, who supposedly had some aspirations of higher office.

I don't know about the quality of any of these people, but they seem like the sort of safe, experienced choices that a state party apparatus would choose from.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both


So, The Primary Bind Is WHY Bayh Jumped Out Now (4.00 / 3)
No chance for the masses to muck things up by voting in a primary.

But that still doesn't explain why he jumped out at all.

All in all, we are surely better off without him.  Even a clone would not have his clout.  

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


Not that he was my favorite Dem... (0.00 / 0)
But this is going to be a really tough hold, I think... Chances of Republicans taking the Senate just went way up.

Part of the problem in Indiana... (4.00 / 2)
...is that the Democrats tend to be islands of local support in the state, while the Republicans tend to have a much more statewide-focused organization.  For example, my parents live in Lebanon, which until recently had had a Democratic mayor for quite some time in a very Republican area.

This matters a lot in Indiana, in that you have Indianapolis, with it's love-hate relationship vis-a-vis its suburbs and the rest of the state, and you have various regions that have a close relationship with various areas outside the state - Cincinnati, Louisville, Chicago, the Greater Detroit area, etc....  Then you have locales such as Vincennes or Terre Haute or, if you want to stretch it, the Lafayette to Logansport corridor, that have their own interests.  In short, you're talking about a very locally-oriented situation.  And the Democratic state party in Indiana always seems to have more work to do to make it happen than the Republicans.

I think whoever is the most valid candidate on our side has to focus on jobs and a populist economic message that is based on logical (banks need to be regulated better because recent past experience shows they need it) than an emotional (Hang 'em high!) response.  Otherwise, race will come into play by the Republicans (through the subtext are "your poverty is the result of 'those people'"), and while I wouldn't say Indiana is a racist state, there is a level of ignorance regarding race and ethnicity outside of immediate experience that is quite large, due to a huge chunk of the state living in small towns and rural areas.

That said, I think it has to be made clear to whoever is selected as a candidate (which I highly resent because Bayh surely knew it would result in the problems it leaves us with) cannot afford to be picky with from whom he gathers is support - that person will NOT win without a coalition that ranges across multiple areas, ethnicities and levels of economic status.  We may have to eat some crow, but we also must be heard and acknowleded.

My two bits....


Jonathan Weinzapfel (4.00 / 2)
the mayor of Evansville, looks like both the best bet to keep the seat and possibly the most liberal choice, though that's relative.

Insert shameless blog promotion here.

Leave it to Bayh (0.00 / 0)
to screw us over one last time. There might have been a chance for a Grayson-style liberal populist to emerge in a primary, but Bayh torpedoed that possibility with his timing. Surely nobody believes that result was coincidental.

Chris is right about what's needed, but the likelihood that the state party/DSCC will go with anything but another DINO is a hair away from zero. Which in turn results in the same odds for that candidate winning the general.

If the left could get our act together somehow and fund an attractive left-populist, this could turn into a rare opportunity to test the meme that such candidates have no chance in red-leaning states. How much money/help could the leftosphere raise for an independent candidate if we pooled resources ranging from Act Blue to MoveOn to PFAW, etc.? Does Indiana elect the candidate with the most votes or require a runoff?  


Forgot to ask the big one: (0.00 / 0)
how much would it take to fund/help a candidate in Indiana?

[ Parent ]
Money isn't the most important resource.... (0.00 / 0)
....it's time and space.

To win a statewide race in Indiana, you have a lot of people spread out over a lot of territory.  The Greater Indianapolis, Northwest Indiana, South Bend, Lafayette, Fort Wayne and New Albany areas have a fair chunk of the population, but to win, you have to hit hard in the smaller areas as well.

And that means bodies, preferably local representation, supporting our candidate.


[ Parent ]
disappointed (0.00 / 0)
It's disappointing that Andre Carson is being ruled out without any consideration just because "Indiana is a red state" (hello, they did vote for Obama. Who half the Obama-voting Republicans probably thought was muslim anyway.)

I argue that the liberal blogsphere should at least be willing to consider Carson instead of dismissing him outright. Look at what RedState is doing - staking out grouund for their conservative against the party establishment line. When did OL/DK/myDD become so hesitant and deferent?  


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