— Democrat Evan Bayh launched a bid Wednesday to recapture the Indiana
Senate seat he left six years ago, a move that boosts his party's chances
to pick up the Republican-held seat in their effort to regain control of
the chamber this fall.
Bayh, 60, cited
frustration with Washington gridlock when he retired in 2010 after two
Senate terms. He said a recruitment push by national Democrats didn't sway
his decision to seek a political comeback.
in Washington has gotten even worse over the last six years," he told The
Associated Press. "We have challenges that face our country and our
families that aren't being met. I want to be a part of the solution to the
challenges that we face by helping to bring people together, bridging some
of the partisan divides that have separated our country."
announcement came two days after former U.S. Rep. Baron Hill cleared the
way by withdrawing as the Democratic nominee for the seat held by
Republican Sen. Dan Coats, who is retiring.
"If he thought it
was dysfunctional and partisan then, welcome back, it was nothing like it
is today," Coats said.
Hill was not
considered a strong candidate to take on GOP nominee U.S. Rep. Todd Young,
who was backed by Republican establishment figures in the state's May
primary against a tea party favorite.
Democrats pushed for Bayh to enter the race, where he will have advantages
of name identification and campaign cash over Young.
Since word of
Bayh's candidacy emerged on Monday, Republicans have attacked Bayh for
remaining in Washington, where he has been a partner at the McGuireWoods
law firm and joined several corporate boards since leaving the Senate.
"Most Hoosiers I
talk with think the system in Washington is rigged against them," Young
said in a statement. "They think Washington lobbyists like Evan Bayh are
part of the problem. I agree. Evan Bayh wouldn't defend Hoosiers from
Obamacare when he was in the Senate, but as a lobbyist he defended
corporations who paid him to oppose it."
Bayh, who was a
two-term governor before winning his first Senate election in 1998, said
he's never been a lobbyist and shifted away from questions about his
needs to be about middle class families and what we can do to meet their
challenges," Bayh said. "Not about a bunch of politicians tearing each
Democrats need to
net four or five seats to win back Senate control — four if they hang onto
the White House and can send the vice president to break ties in the
Senate; five if they don't. With a handful of competitive races around the
country, one seat can make all the difference, and putting Indiana in play
could be crucial.
Even if Bayh
can't win his old seat back, his candidacy would force Republicans to
spend money in a state they had no plans to invest in. The latest federal
reports show that Bayh had nearly $9.3 million in his campaign account at
the end of March, while Young's campaign announced Monday that he had
about $1.2 million in the bank on June 30.
from politics won't hurt him much despite the Indiana trending Republican
in recent years, said former Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke, a Republican
who lost to Bayh in the 1998 Senate race.
"All the sudden
Todd Young has gone from being the favorite to being the underdog," said
Helmke, an Indiana University public affairs professor. "All the sudden,
rather than being in a positon where they have a money advantage, they
have a disadvantage."
are attacking Bayh for living and working in Washington after leaving the
Senate, Helmke pointed out that Coats survived similar criticism from
Democrats in 2010 when he made his own Senate comeback after 12 years out