Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Coats returns to Indiana, will attempt to get on primary ballot

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Former Sen. Dan Coats said Wednesday that he is confident his campaign will collect enough signatures to get on Indiana’s Republican primary ballot by next Tuesday’s deadline for a chance to take on Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh.

Coats, 66, also said in an interview that as a former 10-year senator he would be in the best position among five Republicans seeking the nomination to wage a formidable campaign against Bayh. Bayh is seeking a third term this year and had $13 million in campaign cash as of September.

Other Republicans seeking the nomination are former U.S. Rep. John Hostettler, state Sen. Marlin Stutzman of Howe, Richmond financial adviser Don Bates Jr. and Fishers businessman Richard Beyney.

Coats decided against seeking re-election in 1998, avoiding a race with Bayh, who was a two-term governor from early 1989 to early 1997. Since then, Coats has served as ambassador to Germany under former President George W. Bush and worked as a lobbyist in Washington for some financial companies including Credit Suisse and Bank of America. Coats was a lobbyist for the latter when it took $25 billion in bailout funds. Bank of America has since paid the money back.

Democrats have questioned his lobbying ties, saying he worked for a firm in 2000 and 2001 that represented several countries, including Yemen — now considered a stronghold for al-Qaida.

Stutzman questioned Coats’ lobbying ties at a news conference Wednesday, saying they were a distraction to the Republican primary race. “Us good folks in Indiana have questions of where have you been and what have you been doing and who you have been relating with,” Stutzman said.

State Democratic Chairman Dan Parker also said Coats had to answer questions about his lobbying activities and said Coats had “abandoned Indiana to become a Washington insider.”

Coats has lived and voted in Virginia for several years, and has a second home in North Carolina. He said he would check his records to know for sure whether he had personally lobbied for Yemen, would make sure all his lobbying records were accurate and then would disclose everything.

He said the firm he currently works for, King and Spalding, has hundreds of employees representing hundreds of major companies, and lists all lobbyists in the firm for clients whether they are personally lobbying for them or not. He said most former members of Congress who become lobbyists do not register, but hire surrogates to lobby for them.

“I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to be upfront,” Coats said. “If I had as many clients as the Democrats are trying to tell people, I would be richer than Bill Gates.”

During a stop at a downtown Indianapolis deli on Wednesday, his first interaction was with a man and his wife. Her first question was where he lived.

Coats said he recently leased a home in Indianapolis and is back to live here. He plans to sell the home in North Carolina and quit the lobbying firm. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had released footage of Coats in 2008 saying he planned to move from Virginia to North Carolina after retiring.

Like the other candidates, he must collect 4,500 signatures from registered voters — 500 from each of the state’s congressional districts — by Tuesday to get on the primary ballot.

Stutzman said he had reached that threshold and would file his candidacy soon.

Coats only announced on Feb. 3 that he was running. He said he decided after Indiana Republican Rep. Mike Pence said he would seek re-election instead of trying to challenge Bayh.

 

Posted 2/11/2010

 

 

 

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