The Campaign Spot

We’re Out of the Senate’s Equivalent of Generic Brand Diet Soda

I know many of you have subscribed, but many have not. Let’s rectify this.

From today’s edition of Morning Jolt:

Okay, Did Anyone Not Use the “Bye-Bayh” Pun in Their Headline?

On paper, Evan Bayh was a centrist Democrat, and so when one of them retires, I’m supposed to feel bad. Yet I find myself having roughly the same emotional reaction as finding we’re out of the generic brand diet soda. For all of his centrism – 20.7 lifetime ACU rating – I can’t remember a time he really fought for anything I really wanted to see, and for much of his career he tended to blend in with a Senate Democratic caucus defined by the folks who can really make a conservative’s skin crawl – Robert Byrd, Chuck Schumer, Barbara Boxer, Chris Dodd, Harry Reid. During the health care debate last year, he didn’t cause nearly as many problems for Harry Reid as Blanche Lincoln or Mary Landrieu or Ben Nelson.

William Jacobson noticed it, too: “I have commented before that Bayh was largely missing in action, or in hiding, during the health care debate when one would have expected him to be front and center. Back in mid-December, just before the Senate health care vote, I asked: Where is Evan Bayh? His silence has been deafening. I even issued an Amber Alert for Evan Bayh. We have found Evan Bayh, and he apparently didn’t want to be found. Or how about this, ‘Evan Bayh didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left Evan Bayh.’”

Shortly after word of his retirement broke yesterday, a couple readers it insisted the move reflected Bayh’s presidential ambitions. But I went back and checked; his exploratory committee lasted all of two weeks. Even Tom Vilsack kept the charade of his campaign going a few months, and Vilsack is so boring and pallid a political figure that Bayh looks like Elvis in comparison.

Still, with his sudden retirement, Evan Bayh has left his party way, way up a particular creek with no paddles and for that sir, I salute you.

Hotline lays out the precise nature of this middle finger to any other Democrat in the state who wanted his job: “Candidates running for statewide office in IN have to collect 500 signatures from each of the state’s 9 districts. Those signatures are due by tomorrow. Once signatures are in, candidates have until Friday to officially file for office.”

Hugh Hewitt offers some really intriguing theories: “Whatever the reason(s) for which he is choosing not to run for re-election, Evan Bayh’s retirement instantly puts him in a position to challenge President Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2012 if the president continues his hard-left lurch by pushing Obamacare, cap-and-tax, and the makeover of the entire U.S. economy in the European mold.  If Bayh uses his last year in office to stand for traditional Democratic policies, he becomes not only a prime contender to take on the president in the 2012 primaries, but, if he chooses not to run, an attractive replacement for Slow Joe Biden as a genuine “moderate” Democrat with distance from the fiascos of the first two years of the Obama Administration.”

Tom Maguire knows how to twist the knife of sarcasm: “As to Bayh’s Presidential aspirations, this speech reads like a campaign announcement – the resume, the moderate record, and did I mention the resume?  The idea that Democrats might actually nominate a guy with a record of accomplishment is bizarre, but 2012 is likely to be unusual.”

Republicans probably do not want to operate heavy machinery immediately after reading this analysis from Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling, as it will probably leave them unsafely giddy: “I think the GOP will be favored in Indiana however the candidate field shakes out this week, and I think the GOP is favored in Arkansas, Nevada, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and North Dakota as well. Win all those and you have a 52-48 Democratic Senate. Beyond that you have Illinois looking like a toss up and then California and New York looking like they definitely have the potential to become highly competitive based on the incumbents’ lack of popularity and Washington and Wisconsin as maybe the longest shots for the GOP but possible with an A list candidate. And really, if it’s a 50-50 situation does anyone trust Joe Lieberman not to throw his hat with the Republicans? Three months ago I would have said Republicans have about a 5% chance of taking back the Senate. Now I’d put it more in the one in three chance range, and rising by the week. And who knows when the bad news for Democrats will stop pouring in . . .”


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