Writing for Howey Politics Indiana, veteran reporter/columnist Jack Colwell relays the soon-to-be former Senator’s comments on seeking the Indiana Governor’s office once again, as well as his thoughts on the acrimonious nature of politics at the national level today:
After deciding, Bayh said, he will announce quickly, avoiding his acknowledged mistake in not announcing his Senate decision back in August of ’09, when he told Obama.
When Obama asked if he was 100 percent certain, Bayh related, “I made a mistake. I said it’s 98 percent.”
Thus, the president and Rahm Emanuel, then White House chief of staff, kept urging him to put off any announcement and reconsider. He put it off, “procrastinating, going back and forth,” until the filing deadline was upon him.
Now, some Democrats are angry with Bayh for waiting until it was too late for another candidate to get on the primary ballot. Congressman Brad Ellsworth finally was picked as the nominee by the Democratic State Committee. Ellsworth, who would have won for re-election for his 8th District House seat, was instead trounced Tuesday in a statewide race with Republican Dan Coats. And Democrats lost the 8th District seat.
Democratic chances for the Senate wouldn’t have brightened if he had announced much earlier that he wasn’t running, Bayh theorized, because it would have brought a divisive Democratic primary and “Republicans would have had a stronger nominee” than Coats.
Bayh noted that I have written he would have won re-election. He said he probably could have, but he would have had to concentrate from May to November on “destroying my opponent” and suffer “personally unpleasant” attacks from the opponent, not very satisfying for someone sick of partisan warfare in the Senate.
It’s not his father’s Senate.
He said that when his father, Birch Bayh, was in the Senate, “some of his better friends were Republicans. They’d come over for dinner.”
He recalled how Sen. Everett Dirksen, then Senate Republican leader, “came up to him (Birch Bayh) on the floor of the Senate and asked what he could do to help with his re-election. That would never happen today.”
Bayh said he is “independent, moderate” and found fewer and fewer on either side of the aisle who would abandon partisan bickering to seek reasonable compromise.
“Some of this was unavoidable,” Bayh said of Democratic losses.
After financial panic and severe recession, slow recovery was certain, Bayh said, but the slowness was blamed on the president and Democratic-controlled Congress.
Usual mid-term election losses for the president’s party were made worse, he said, by Democrats who pressed to do too much on health care reform “in the teeth of the worst economy” and brought on “resurrection of the ‘big taxer, big spender’ image.”