Bayh announces Senate candidacy

July 13, 2016 GMT

Evan Bayh made official Wednesday morning what had been widely expected during the previous 48 hours: He will be the Democratic candidate for an open U.S. Senate seat from Indiana, the same one he occupied from 1999 through 2010.

“With the challenges facing Indiana and our country, I can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch as partisan bickering grinds Washington to a halt. Hoosier families deserve more and I’ve decided to run to take their cause to the U.S. Senate,” Bayh said in a statement from Indianapolis.

Bayh’s attempted comeback was first reported Monday morning by CNN about the same time that Democratic Senate nominee Baron Hill announced he was dropping out of the race for the job of retiring Republican Sen. Dan Coats. Hill was to have faced off in the November general election against the Republican who unseated him from Congress, U.S. Rep. Todd Young.

The Indiana Democratic Party Central Committee’s State Central Committee is scheduled fill the ballot vacancy July 22. The caucus vote is expected to be a mere formality now that Bayh, a former two-term senator and former two-term governor, is an announced candidate.

Bayh, 60, did not seek re-election to the Senate in 2010 but remained in Washington as an attorney. He reportedly maintains his Indiana residency as the owner of a condominium in Indianapolis.

“One of the reasons I decided to retire was to spend more time with my twin boys and my wife,” Bayh said in his statement. “I am proud of that decision and cherish the time I’ve had with them. Now, I see their future – and all of Indiana’s future – put at risk by a broken political system. I’ll work every day to put progress ahead of partisanship and to earn the support of Hoosiers so that we can get back to getting things done for Indiana.”

Young and Republicans have been denouncing Bayh as a prospective candidate around the clock since news broke on his plan to seek his old seat. Their theme has been that Bayh is a Washington insider who is much more lobbyist than lawyer and would be a rubber stamp for Hillary Clinton if she is elected president.

“Most Hoosiers I talk with think the system in Washington is rigged against them. They think Washington lobbyists like Evan Bayh are part of the problem. I agree,” Young said Wednesday in a statement.

The Bloomington resident also said, “This Senate seat does not belong to the Bayh family for whenever it’s convenient.” Bayh’s father, Birch Bayh, was a U.S. senator from 1963 through 1980.

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Jeff Cardwell called Evan Bayh a “re-tread, out-of-touch, lobbyist.”

“He states that the reason for joining the race is that the political process is too partisan -- let’s not forget that that is the same reason he gave for leaving the Senate in 2010,” Cardwell said in a statement.

He said Young is a candidate who “won’t leave when the job becomes too hard.”

Bayh’s campaign has more than $9 million in cash left over from his previous runs for office. Young’s campaign announced this week it has about $1.2 million in cash.

Various political analysts shifted Indiana’s Senate race from “likely” Republican to “toss up” after it became apparent Bayh would replace Hill on the Nov. 8 ballot. Indiana is now considered among eight battleground states that will decide which party takes control of the Senate, where Republicans have a 54-46 majority.

Bayh, widely regarded as a moderate during his two Senate terms, said in his announcement statement that he had “fought in the Senate to cut red tape for small businesses and took on China to combat their unfair trade practices that take away our jobs.” He said that as governor in 1989 through 1996, “we crossed the aisle to cut taxes, reform welfare and create a scholarship program to help Hoosier families afford college.”

State Democratic Chairman John Zody said Wednesday in a statement: “This week, Baron Hill showed courage by putting Hoosiers ahead of his own political future. He and everyone else knows how high the stakes are in this election and the importance of protecting and fighting for the middle class in the U.S. Senate. Indiana Democrats look forward to having a commonsense leader who will work with Sen. Joe Donnelly, and as our meeting to fill the vacancy approaches, I look forward to discussing Senator Bayh’s candidacy with the State Central Committee.”