Bayh gets top-tier challenger after all
by desmoinesdem, Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 10:51:47 AM EST
Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana dodged a bullet recently when Representative Mike Pence decided against challenging him, but today former U.S. Senator Dan Coats, who retired in 1998, will announce plans to run for this seat. Chris Cillizza handicaps the race:
While Coats give Republicans a very credible challenger to Bayh, the Democratic Senator is no slouch. Bayh's obvious strength is his financial prowess as he ended 2009 with $13 million in the bank and his sterling electoral record that includes two terms as governor and two terms in the Senate.
Bayh's biggest potential weakness is the fact that he hasn't run a truly competitive race in decades and may not have the fire in the belly to do so now given that he weighed retirement earlier in this cycle.
Coats will also have to answer a few basic questions. He does not currently live in the state (GOP sources say he and his wife had long planned to move back), is a federally registered lobbyist and, for someone who left office expressing a disdain for fundraising, will have to do lots of it to get competitive with Bayh.
Cillizza doesn't mention a few other problems for Coats, like how he minimized the threat from Al-Qaeda. When President Bill Clinton ordered air strikes in Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998, Coats said, "The president has been consumed with matters regarding his personal life. It raises questions about whether or not he had the time to devote to this issue, or give the kind of judgment that needed to be given to this issue to call for military action."
Jonathan Singer also noted on his Twitter feed that Coats was in charge of getting the unqualified Harriet Miers confirmed for the U.S. Supreme Court. That effort didn't go well, and President George W. Bush ended up withdrawing Miers' nomination (which is how we got Samuel Alito).
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