Evan Bayh’s announcement that he’s retiring today, just four days short of the filing petition deadline for the Democrat Party nomination in Indiana’s Senate race, has created something of an emergency situation and a scramble which could result in the Dems all but ceding the seat to the GOP this fall.
Only one candidate had previously announced a run for the Democrat nomination when Bayh was still involved in it – Tamyra D’Ippolito, a cafe owner from Indianapolis with little political experience, began her candidacy in November because of Bayh’s stance on health care – that was before Bayh actually voted in favor of the Senate’s health care bill. D’Ippolito’s platform statement reads like a dream for a Republican opponent in 2010; she’s a left-wing fringe Democrat with a message that would barely fly in Massachusetts or California, much less a fairly conservative state like Indiana.
D’Ippolito being a lightweight, the state’s Democrats didn’t give much thought to her campaign. State law requires candidates to have 500 signatures in each of Indiana’s nine congressional districts, and D’Ippolito is apparently about 1,000 votes short of qualifying with a certification deadline tomorrow. If she does make the number tomorrow, she’ll be the Democrat on the ballot and whatever bigger name would like to get in would have to stage a write-in campaign to beat her for the nomination in May.
But if D’Ippolito doesn’t get the required signatures, the Democrats would be able to choose a candidate via a caucus, and two Congressmen – Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill – are considering candidacies based on that method. That explains why D’Ippolito is getting a lot more love from conservatives at present than from Democrats.
The next 24 hours will be extremely interesting in the Hoosier State. Will the Democrats be saddled with a goofy novice for a candidate thanks to help she received from the other side? Or will Bayh’s senate race come down to a GOP candidate anointed by the Beltway elite (former Senator Dan Coats, who was recruited into the race by the Republican National Committee, is considered a heavy favorite over state senator Marlin Stutzman in the primary) and a Democrat chosen in a smoke-filled room?