That is right. A day before the filing date for U.S. Senate candidates, Evan Bayh has announced that he won’t be running for re-election. The why is unclear. Did the polling really spook him? Or is there some missing story here that would account for why one of the best-funded Democrats would throw in the towel, leaving his party high and dry?
Sen. Evan Bayh’s (D-IN) decision to retire has sent Dems scrambling to figure out who will carry the party’s standard — and how to go about getting that person on the ballot in the first place. 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. Bayh could still file to run, then drop out. But if he does not file his signatures tomorrow, no other Dem is expected to collect the required 500 signatures by then, meaning Dems will get the chance to pick their own nominee.
So Democrats will then have to defend a seat with the handpicked choice of the party insiders — not a pleasant prospect in a year in which political machines are under assault. So put this seat in the endangered category for Democrats. Charlie Cook sums up: “With Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh’s decision not to seek a third term in November, the race moves to the Lean Republican column. While Democrats have not had the opportunity to assess their options, it is unlikely that they will be able to come up with a strong enough candidate to compete in a GOP-leaning state in the current political climate.”
As inexplicable as this seems on one level, it’s merely par for the course on another. In a year in which incumbents see their political careers going up in smoke, many are heading for the exits. (Bayh may run for governor, according to reports.) That, in turn, will further frighten those incumbents clinging to office and suggests that they, too, need to take evasive measures to prevent career-ending losses. Putting distance between the Obama agenda and their own voting records might help. But that is not always easy when the Democratic leadership is whipping up votes on more big-government power grabs.
The bottom line here is that we are fast approaching the point in which a Senate takeover by the GOP is not out of the question. Delaware, North Dakota, and now Indiana are likely goners. Nevada and Arkansas are imperiled. Colorado looks dicey, as do Pennsylvania and Illinois. (Cook rates these as “toss up” seats.) That’s eight right there. If Wisconsin, New York, California, and Washington become competitive, then look out. The Obama era may indeed prove to mark a titanic shift in the national political landscape.
Granted, it’s not exactly the one the Obami had in mind.