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
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
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
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.