What to Make of Bayh’s Good-Bye
This morning’s surprise announcement by Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh that he won’t seek a third term — a surprise in that Bayh enjoyed a healthy lead and a flush war chest — didn’t lack for high-minded talk.
Bayh indicated that he was frustrated by the lack of bipartisan coöperation in the “world’s most deliberative body”. And he said he never believed in running just for the sake of running.
One sign that Bayh may genuinely be fed up with the place: he didn’t give an advance heads-up to Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid. Bayh reportedly did put a phone call into Reid — but only after the news of his retirement already had leaked.
But there’s a potentially very crass political calculation to this, as The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza points out. Bayh’s bombshell, done at last moment as far as Indiana election law is concerned, is more for the benefit of Democratic insiders than Democratic voters.
Because signatures to qualify for the ballot are due tomorrow, no Democrat will formally file — leaving the seat vacant and allowing the state party apparatus to choose the candidate.
Makes one wonder if Bayh’s decision, seeing as its timing saves his party from a contentious primary and lets the intelligentsia pick the candidate it deems best positioned for an uphill fall campaign, really was so spur-of-the-moment . . .
BTW, if you’re keeping score at home, The Cook Political Report now lists 8 Democratic-held Senate seats as either toss-ups or leaning/solidly Republican.
If all of those 8 went into the GOP camp, and the Republicans held onto all of their 4 toss-up seats, the balance next January would be 49-49-2. Thus making Connecticut’s Joe Lieberman, one of the two Senate independents (Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, a Socialist, being the other) a very popular man.
A second BTW: Barbara Boxer remains in the in the “lean Democratic” column — meaning that, in order to take over the Senate, Republicans will have to run the table in all the states where the Democrats have troubles, plus pull off an upset in either California or Connecticut, site of the other “lean Democratic” race.