Evan Bayh, Senator from my home state of Indiana, shocked the Democratic Party by announcing that he would not be seeking re-election. There are a lot of pundits with a lot of theories as to why Senator Bayh would leave his Party in the lurch on so many fronts. So here’s my take:
The statement that he was leaving the Senate because of partisan politics somehow has the ring of truth to it, but then again, it doesn’t. Politics in Washington has always been partisan, but perhaps the good Senator decided enough was enough. There are limits to what one can take, so perhaps he got tired of holding his nose. So this is a possibility, although probably not the entire reason.
But the question that pops into my mind is why would he leave the Democrats so abruptly, leaving them with such short notice for finding a viable candidate for his Senate seat? It cannot be that he’s that upset with his Party – he has a life-long affiliation with the Party. Is this part of a long-range strategy distancing himself from the increasingly leftward movement of the Party, or something else? He has a $13 million political war chest just sitting there ready to start funding a political return.
Some of the pundits are speculating that the soon-to-be-ex-Senator would want to make a run at the White House, but after the Obama rein has run it’s course. That might make sense except that there are some of the more serious pundits discounting such a move, citing Bayh’s inability to secure the nomination from the Democratic Party. And after leaving them high and dry with his short-notice announcement, that’s probably true. The Democratic Party has a long memory of such treasonous actions.
What I think is going to happen is that Bayh is going to “retire” from politics, if only temporarily. He will return to Indiana, and throw himself into Indiana-based issues to help build up the State (and to distance himself from the job-killing high-spending policies of Congress). He can then return to politics with credentials bolstered with success. Would he run for the Governorship of Indiana again? That could signal a restart into the political realm.
Of course, all of this is speculation. My guesses are just as good as the next person. It will be interesting to watch this scene play out.