Democrats Looking to Choose a Washington Insider for Indiana Senate Race in Anti-Washington Year

With Evan Bayh's (D-IN) surprise retirement announcement the day before the filing deadline for the primary, the question quickly turns to who will be his Democratic replacement in the race. If no candidate manages to get on the ballot for the primary, the candidate will needed to be selected by the state party.

Indications are right now that the top two choices of the state party are Rep. Brad Ellsworth and Rep. Baron Hill. Selecting a person currently serving in Congress to run in this political climate would seem like a very bad political move.

Support for Congress and the people who serve there is extremely low. A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that Congress had a job approval rating of only 15 percent. When asked if people thought most members of Congress deserved re-election, only 8 percent responded yes, while 81 percent responded no.

To put it simply, this is not a good year to be potentially labeled a “Washington insider.” Running as a House member for a Senate seat has all the drawbacks of being an incumbent in an anti-incumbent year, but without the benefit of being a statewide incumbent--high name recognition and having a plurality of people who have previously voted for you.

The likely Republican candidate is Dan Coats, who currently lives in the Washington, DC area and recently worked as a lobbyist. If the Indiana Democratic party selected a popular mayor or statewide officeholder, that candidate could credibly run an anti-Washington campaign against Coats. A smart move in this political climate. That is something neither Ellsworth or Hill could legitimately do. At a time when the American people are extremely angry with Washington, the Indiana Democratic party should think long and hard about making their top of the ticket nominee someone from Washington.

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