Monday, February 15, 2010

Bye Bayh

Bowers: IN-Sen: Please, for the love of God, don't help Tamyra D'Ippolito get on the ballot
Just in case anyone out there was thinking about helping Tamyra D'Ippolito get on the ballot for Indiana Senate, please consider my plea for you to not provide that help.

On the surface, Tamyra D'Ippolito has a story that might appeal to some people. She appears to hold some left-wing, if vague, positions, is the first woman to run for Senate in Indiana, and was willing to mount a primary challenge to Evan Bayh. And, if she gets on the ballot, it will severely complicate Evan Bayh's parting plan of allowing the Indiana state Democratic Party, sans primary, from likely anointing a right-wing Democrat as the nominee.

However, even a cursory look at D'Ippolito's campaign and background shows that she is a really, really bad choice for Democrats in Indiana. Consider:

She worked on Wall Street for 20 years, including for Lehman Brothers: From the front page of D'Ippolito's campaign website:
No grassroots support. D'Ippolito appears to have been running since at least November 5th. And yet, despite this, she does not have enough of an organization to get the needed signatures to make the ballot:
No Money Some people decry the amount of money in politics, and don't like ti when candidates are dismissed because they can't raise money. However, D'Ippolito is bad at fundraising even by the standards of Arizona's public financing system, which requires candidates to bring in several small donations before receiving public funds.

D'Ippolito has three donations on Act Blue, for a total of $60. One of those donations came in today.


Right now, if I were a Republican activist, I would be working to help D'Ippolito get on the Indiana primary ballot as a Democrat. If I was in the Indiana state Democratic Party, I would be hiring lawyers to challenge her filing when it is submitted. This is because D'Ippolito would be a disastrous Democratic nominee in Indiana. At best, she would get thumped by 30-40%, and we would never hear from her. At worst, she would get thumped by 30-40%, and we would hear about how another Democratic Senate nominee has ties to banks that caused the financial crisis (ala Giannoulias Illinois.

Republicans are inching closer to retaking the Senate. Indiana is a winnable seat--and we can get someone more progressive than Bayh, hopefully--but we throw Republicans a further lifeline if we help D'Ippolito get on the ballot. Please, please, don't help her.

Update: Given the three candidates who are being floated--Rep. Baron Hill, Rep. Brad Ellsworth, and Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel--I'm with David Dayden. Mark me down for Weinzapfel. He appears more liberal, and he isn't holding office in D.C. right now.

Weigel: A Right-Left Alliance for D’Ippolito (Who Could Use a History Lesson)

David Dayen of Firedoglake talks to the potential Democratic spoiler in Indiana, gets some of the same canned quotes from Tamyra D’Ippolito as Jonathan Martin, but basically plays it straightforward.

D’Ippolito told me she is the first woman to ever run for the US Senate in Indiana. Her impression from working on prior campaigns and from this one is that Indiana political culture is a “tight old boys school, it borders on sexism.” In a state where the population is 52% women, D’Ippolito says “in the future, we women of Indiana are not going to tolerate” the chummy, insider culture.

Worth pointing out, since D’Ippolito has repeated her “first woman ever” quote to multiple reporters — the 2008 Indiana Democratic candidate for governor was Jill Long Thompson. She was, and is, female. She was also the party’s unsuccessful 1986 candidate for U.S. Senate against incumbent and future Vice President Dan Quayle. D’Ippolito doesn’t really know what she’s talking about.

Interestingly, the comments on Dayen’s article broadcast some immediate support for D’Ippolito — whose nomination would functionally hand the Senate seat over to Republicans. One Republican who realizes that is Erick Erickson, who’s encouraging RedState readers to get signatures. But that’s less surprising than the FDL reaction, which is of a piece of that site’s turn against Democrats seen by readers to be puppets of Rahm Emanuel.

UPDATE: The conservative, Anschutz-owned Washington Examiner runs an item instructing readers how to help out the D’Ippolito effort.

atrios: Being A Senator Sucks
Obviously it doesn't suck as much as being a coal miner does, but whether you go into the Senate because you want to get lots of media attention or because you want to actually get things done, the Senate will quickly drain the life out of you. Freshman senators are expected to largely keep their heads down, and it takes a long time to travel up the seniority system to get any real power or the ability to get much attention from national media. Of course, even once you have real power the Senate itself sucks so hard that you can't really get anything done.

I'm not surprised Bayh's retiring. It was just part of his journey towards the White House, a journey which he'll never complete.
Yglesias: Evan Bayh

Obviously, Evan Bayh’s never been my favorite Senator. And the more one learns about both the manner of his departure, and the thinking behind it, the clearer it is why. Simply put: He’s an immoral person who conducts his affairs in public life with a callous disregard for the impact of his decisions on human welfare. He’s sad he’s not going to be president? He doesn’t like liberal activists? He finds senate life annoying? Well, boo-hoo. We all shed a tear.

He’s ditching his seat in a manner calculated to throw control of it to a conservative Republican. And nothing about his stated reasons for leaving suggest that he thinks replacing Evan Bayh with a conservative Republican will make the lives of Americans better. Nor does anything about his states reasons for leaving suggest that he thinks replacing Evan Bayh with a conservative Republican make the lives of foreigners better. But he’s acting to ensure that it happens anyway. Because he doesn’t care about the welfare of the American people or the people of the world. It’s not a recipe for good conduct as a Senator and it’s not a recipe for good conduct when it comes to choosing a way to depart.

Drum: Evan Bayh Quits in a Huff

The big political news today is that Sen. Evan Bayh (D–Ind.) has decided not to run for reelection. He made this decision four days before the deadline for candidates to qualify for the June primary ballot, leaving Democrats in a considerable bind. Dave Weigel:

Here are two measures of what a surprise this is. One: Ken Spain, spokesman for the NRCC, simply tweets “unreal” as he begins a series of observations about what this means for Democrats. Two: a Democratic strategist confirms to me that Bayh didn’t let anyone at any level of the party know about this, and shares with me an expletive I won’t share about the man himself.

Luke Russert tweets: "Amazing, Bayh told his staff he was done on Friday and didn't call Harry Reid until 25 minutes ago!!!" If that's true, it's pretty remarkable behavior even for someone as famously callow as Bayh.

So why did he quit so suddenly? His official statement says he's frustrated with the Senate because there is "too much partisanship and not enough progress — too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving." Maybe. Alternatively, he's tired of taking hits from party liberals, who aren't exactly fans of his ostentatious centrism and bipartisan preening. That's pretty much Marc Ambinder's take: "He wanted to be POTUS and came to hate the Senate and liberal activists. He wanted no mas."

In any case, Bayh had already raised $13 million for his reelection campaign, and up until a few days ago he was assuring party leaders that he would run. Pulling out at this late date is a pretty explicit show of pique, and an obvious gift to Republicans, whose odds of picking up Indiana in November just went way up. Bayh didn't quite give Democrats the finger on his way out, but he did everything short of it.

Marshall: Broken

Saying Washington is broken and getting a few shout-outs from the Broder gang is almost de rigueur for middle of the road senators, especially Democrats, when they retire. And it's hard to disagree with the judgment in general. Watching what's happened over the last year it's hard not to believe that something is fundamentally off-kilter in our national government -- just not, I think, what Bayh thinks it is. I think the most generous read of Bayh's decision is simply that he was bored. He just said that his decision was in part because he was "an executive at heart," which is probably a very honest explanation. He just preferred being governor. And that's fine. It's another way of saying he was bored.

But let's not paper over the fact that he says our national government is broken. And his decision is to walk away.

digby: It's Too Haaard

In a final act of perfidy, Evan Bayh walks away from reelection at the last possible moment, thus ensuring that the voters will not have a chance to choose and allowing the party apparatus to pick a Blue Dog creep to replace him. It just doesn't get any better than this.

The good news is that we are separating the men from the boys. The Democrats have everything, but it's all so icky and hard that a whole bunch of them are just walking away. Good riddance. If they don't have the cojones to stick it out when their country needs them, then they shouldn't be in politics.

I'm glad these guys weren't in charge during the Depression and WWII. We'd all be dirt farming for the Greater Axis Empire today.

Update: Ron Brownstein made a similar point On Andrea Mitchell this morning:

It's hard to see how he justifies this to other Democrats. But look it's more broadly what's happening with the Democratic Party. They've gone from 93-94, it took them 15 years to reestablish unified control of the House and the Senate and the White House as they did in 2009. And here they are, one year into it and the party seems to be in many respects losing its nerve. You have the Bayh thing as the latest in a series of --, Beau Biden, Lisa Madigan in Illinois, a variety of Democratic House members in tough districts walking away.

Look, politics is a contact sport and the Democrats have had the best opportunity they've had in 15 years to advance their agenda, and yet as they take all the flack that comes with that it feels like some of the party is crumbling and losing their nerve. Stunning decision.
Yes it is. But we've heard Democratic establishment rumblings that they'd actually prefer to have a Republican congress because then nobody can expect them to deliver anything but bipartisan neoliberal policy which is what they prefer to deliver. It's hard to see how Obama rallies his base even for the presidential, though, unless the Republicans run Dick Cheney in 2012. Which is possible. The Democrats are a bunch of timorous little schoolkids, but the Republicans are flat out nuts. Oy.

Marshall: Last Minute Decision

From the Evansville Courier & Press ...

Last Thursday, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker said Bayh, whose campaign coffers are loaded with $13 million, was returning to Indiana this week to film commercials for his re-election campaign. The filming was planned for Wednesday and Thursday.

Late last Thursday night, his communications staff discussed arranging an interview with the Courier and Press as Bayh prepared to run for a third term. His spokesman, Brian Weiss, said Bayh would file this week with the Indiana secretary of state's office to run for re-election.

John Cole: Bayh’s Final FU

The filing deadline for Senate in Indiana is Feb. 19th. 16th.

So where is he heading? Eli Lilly? Wellpoint? PHRMA? My worst fear is he will join a wingnut welfare “thinktank” and he will be on tv spewing his bullshit nonstop. At least as a lobbyist he will be doing the same damage to the country he did as a Senator because let’s face it- it isn’t much of a role change from what he and his wife are doing now.

JedL (DK): Bayh told Reid AFTER retirement news broke

NBC's Ken Strickland (posting at 8:53AM Pacific time) reports that Evan Bayh did not call Majority Leader Harry Reid until after news of his retirement announcement broke:

Evan Bayh called Majority Leader Harry Reid only about 25 minutes ago, according to his spokesman.

That's well after the news broke that Bayh wouldn't be running for re-election.

Unless a scandal is forcing Evan Bayh to retire, it seems like he's doing his damndest to piss off every Democrat in America.

JedL (DK): IN-Sen: Did Bayh's timing limit GOP's options?

Reid Wilson and Quinn McCord of Hotline On Call explain what Bayh's timing means for the Democratic nomination process:

Sen. Evan Bayh's (D-IN) decision to retire has sent Dems scrambling to figure out who will carry the party's standard -- and how to go about getting that person on the ballot in the first place.

Candidates running for statewide office in IN have to collect 500 signatures from each of the state's 9 districts. Those signatures are due by tomorrow.

Once signatures are in, candidates have until Friday to officially file for office.

Bayh could still file to run, then drop out. But if he does not file his signatures tomorrow, no other Dem is expected to collect the required 500 signatures by then, meaning Dems will get the chance to pick their own nominee. Some DC Dems say the process is the best-case scenario short of having Bayh on the ballot for a 3rd term; allowing the party to pick a nominee will avoid a primary.

Unlike Democrats, Republicans already have candidates vying for their party's nomination, including former Rep. John Hostetler and Senator-turned-lobbyist Dan Coats. Because the signature deadline is tomorrow, that pretty much sets the GOP field. Unless both Hostetler and Coats were to withdraw, Republicans won't be in a position to choose a nominee as will Democrats. The implication of that: Bayh's timing appears to make it nearly impossible for candidates like Rep. Mike Pence (who says he will not run despite Bayh's retirement) or Gov. Mitch Daniels to get on the ballot.

So while Bayh was a sure thing versus Coats and Hostetler, given his retirement, Bayh's timing here may actually give Democrats the best chance at holding onto the seat.

DougJ: Bayh-Ford 2012?

Charles Lane:

Quitting the Senate was a no-lose move for the presidentially ambitious Bayh, since he can now crawl away from the political wreckage for a couple of years, plausibly alleging that he tried to steer the party in a different direction—and then be perfectly positioned to mount a centrist primary challenge to Obama in 2012, depending on circumstances.

Almost like parody.

If we’re lucky, Broder will start talking up a Bayh-Bloomberg Unity 12 ticket on Thursday.

Marshall: Is Bayh Running for President

Let me start by saying, I don't buy it. If there's an explanation for this that involves the presidency it is that most of Bayh's career going back two decades anticipated an eventual running for the big office. And part of me thinks that at some point over the last two or three years he just realized that that simply was never going to happen.

But TPM Reader EH makes the case ...

The most logical conclusion from Evan Bayh's retirement today is that he wants to be the next President of the United States. With $13 million in the bank and great reelect numbers against fairly weak opponents, a third senate term seemed very likely. If you look at his career in the senate, it's consistently marked by spotlight-grabbing antics, including his regular play to be the leader of some variation of the "Senate Blue Dog" caucus, which has ended in failure each time.
Whether it's the DLC, the Centrist Democrats, the New Democrats, or the Blue Dogs, Evan Bayh has shown that he is desperate to have some sort of power in the senate as a leader of an ideological caucus. Bayh has proven through his words and his actions that he is frustrated with his relative lack of power in the senate (as many former governors do). Speaking of which, in January 2011 he will have 8 years of experience as a governor, and 12 years as a senator. In terms of an adequate resume, he's already there.

Look at his quotes from after the Scott Brown election. "If you lose Massachusetts and that's not a wake-up call, there's no hope of waking up," he said after the election. While this wasn't uncommon for many members of the party following that election, I think it needs to be given more attention based on his retirement. This is a man that is already running for President. His platform is already written for him. He wants to be the moderate candidate who will, in his mind, will receive some Republican support. In my mind, the only question is whether he's going to primary Obama in 2012 or whether he's going to wait for the open race in 2016. The latter is more likely of course, but I wouldn't rule out the former. Evan Bayh, at this point, is a national politician.

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