IN-Sen: Former Sen. Dan Coats Will Reportedly Challenge Bayh

Via Taegan Goddard comes some amazing, out-of-nowhere news:

Informed and reliable sources are telling Howey Politics Indiana that former U.S. Sen. Dan Coats will announce Wednesday he will challenge U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh.

The source, former aide Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute, said that Coats knows he has about two weeks to gather the 4,500 signatures – 500 per Congressional district – in two weeks.

Coats was up for re-election in 1998 when he decided to retire, citing the pressures of constant fundraising. Bayh went on that year to defeat former Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke to reclaim his father’s Senate seat.

Coats was originally appointed to this seat when Dan Quayle was elected Vice President in 1988. (Coats was representing IN-04 at the time – Quayle’s old district.) He subsequently won a special election in 1990 for the final two years of Quayle’s term (beating Baron Hill, 54-46), and then won a full term in 1992 (defeating Joseph Hogsett by a much bigger 57-41 margin).

Coats is 66, but that’s not much older than the Senate median of 63. If this report is accurate and Coats does indeed jump in, this would count as a major get for Indiana Republicans.

48 thoughts on “IN-Sen: Former Sen. Dan Coats Will Reportedly Challenge Bayh”

  1. I don’t have much of a vested interest in the results coming out of Illinois, so its nice to get a victory like this.  After the hype generated by Pence’s and Rokita’s public considerations, Republicans really needed a recruitment victory here.

  2. Usually retired senators get rich in some unseemly way that makes them unelectable in the future, and good for nothing but blue-ribbon commissions.  Daschle couldn’t even get a cabinet appointment, and he’d been actively trying to keep himself clean.  Who bought ex-Senator Coats?  I’d be surprised if nobody did.

  3. Dan Coats has been out of the front-lines for over a decade, so I am not sure what his standing will be in the current environment, but one would have to consider him a serious challenger. This could turn into an extremely interesting race after all!  

  4. The Howey Report is usually as solid as any in the state — he wouldn’t go out on a limb if his sources weren’t close to iron clad.

    It makes sense in that Coats has nothing to lose in terms of a current office or damaging a political future.  I think he’s pretty well thought of in conservative circles — but then I don’t think anyone has thought of him in years.

    I can’t say I’m thrilled about having to put the shoulder to the wheel for Evan Bayh, but I will if I have to.

  5. The reality is that a place as big as Chicago and its burbs have different voting pattern. Hynes has to win what is left in Cook County, but he has won batches of Cook county precincts. My prediction is Quinn by 3000 but it could  be even closer.  

  6. Bayh would still be favorite (largely because of his $13 mil) but this brings another seat into contention for the GOP.  Leans Democrat now until polling shows otherwise.

  7. OH-Sen Portman

    IN-Sen Coats

    KY-Sen Paul and Grayson making Bunning retires

    ND-Sen Hoeven

    DE-Sen Castle

    FL-Sen Rubio leading now Crist

    Big names in the races for senate are giving good results for republicans in open seats and against democratic incumbents in red states. Only lower level candidates for KS-Sen because they need not and for AR-Sen because Huckabee think in run for President.

    Democratic Party needs recruit M Beebe for AR-Sen race.


  8. I consider Coats a “retread”.  He’s hasn’t run for an elected office since 1992.  A lot has happened in the past.

    Looking back at recent history, I think there are 3 “retreads” to look at.

    (1)  Slade Gordon.  Elected in 1980, defeated in 1986.  Runs for the other WA Senate seat and wins in 1988, reelected in 1994 (the same year that 5 House Democrats in WA lost), and then loses in 2000.

    (2)  Frank Lautenburg.  First elected in 1982, and then he retires in 2000.  He enters the 2002 Senate race  as a last minute substitution.  He wins the race 54-44% in 2002, and is re-elected in 2008 by a 56-42 margin.  

    (3)  Walter “Fritz” Mondale.  US Senator from 1965-1976, then VP in 1977-1980.  Comes back in 2002 as a result of Wellstone’s death and loses 50-47%.

    Evan Bayh is pretty established in Indiana.  The Indiana electorate likes him, but the question is how thick or “thin” is his popularity?  I think Bayh would defeat Coats, but it won’t be a landslide.  

  9. He was Ambassador to Germany during Bush’s 1st term.  He was supposedly a shortlister for SecDef as well

  10. I can’t see a guy that hasn’t been in the news for 12 years jumping ahead of Bayh right away.

    Nobody in Indiana under 50 knows who he is and people over 80 don’t remember who he is.

  11.  I don’t really think that is truly were the race stands, but ras may state that it is. Although Coats was popular, he was like Dorgan who was personally popular but stepped aside for the popular governor.  

  12. With the combination of an anti-Democratic environment with the paper-thin level of support that Bayh generally has in my opinion, and I can see a Republican who has some history in the state polling well.

  13. In this environment, I think many polled people will just reflexively respond with the non-Democrat regardless no matter how popular the Dem is.

  14. Pam Roach – a (somewhat) pro-labor wingnut R state senator from a bit south of Seattle.

    Randy Tate, former WA-09 congressman, currently employed by Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition. Still only 44.  

  15. Don’t remember Slade Gorton being unpopular so much as wrong place, wrong time.  While Ralph Nader killed us for President in 2000 he actually did help us down ballot with the additional left leaning voters he brought out.

  16. North Dakota: No because once Dorgan retired a terd can run as a GOPer and still win, it was just a matter of time. This time it was Hoeven

    Indiana: Maybe, let’s see how he preforms since he’s been out of office since he’s been retired from the Senate for 12 years

    Kentucky: No, once crazy Jimmy retired he was in the GOP’s hands. It’s a state that’s trending away from us

    Deleware: Maybe, jury is still out on whatever old man Mike can campaign after all those easy elections and that Chris Coons can fight

    Florida: Nothing to see here. Once Alex Sink decided not to run I crossed this race off my list.

    Ohio: Absolutely. Portman has been around and can come off as a mod despite the fact he’s not. But he has baggage as he was the man in the Bush WH that carried out all those free trade agreements that led to all those jobs being shipped out of Ohio. But top tier noneoftheless.

    Don’t forget we got good candidates too. We have Robin Carnahan in MO, Paul Hodes in NH, Cal Cunningham in NC. In my opinion both sides have done alright in terms of recruiting.

  17. Arkansas. No Beebe is not our saving grace like Dick Blumenthal is in CT. If you saw the latest PPP poll at best he’s tied with Boozeman and the other GOPers. Fsce it this seat is turning GOP and there’s nothing we can do about it

    Nevada: Krolicki isn’t exactly top tier because of his ethics problems but a 12th tier opponent can easily beat Harry Reid and you know whats sad about that. If Harry just would of been a good Majority Leader and didn’t piss off his base every chance he got he wouldn’t been in this mess, self inflicted wounds.

    I have a feeling this year when Netroots Nation is in Vegas, Harry won’t show for reasons we already know.

  18. It moves off of solid Dem thats happening but i’ll wait until I move it to leans Dem until I see the race develops more. Likely is more like it for now until we see the polls, money and how the campaigns of Bayh and Coats unfold.

  19. Either Coats more-or-less clears the field and its essentially a Coats-Bayh matchup from here to November, or things get ugly on the GOP side.  And it could happen — the semi-reasonable (as much as that’s possible anymore) conservative wing of the party against the “U.N. black helicoptors buzzed my house last night” wing of the party.

  20. Keep in mind, it’s not like Coats was a RINO. He advocated for a prayer-in-school mandate, was a foreign policy hawk, posted a very pro-gun legislative trail, and wanted to privatize social security ’til the cows came home. Hostettler would be strictly fringe in this thing.

  21. is immensely important.

    We do not know if Hoeven gave Dorgan a heads up that he was going to challenge him which prompted the retirement.

    Or the Grayson/Paul entry in Kentucky and establishment pressure dried up fundraising forcing Bunning to hang it up.

    Maybe Biden didn’t want to tangle with a formidable Castle so he decided to wait him out.

    The Republicans have done generally a good job recruiting. Thee is no doubt the national trends are favorable to them so that helps with recruitment.  

  22. I met coats on July 4, 2002 in Dresden, Germany. There I sang solo for the independence day festivities and Mr. Coats and his wife were there. He is an extremely intelligent man and will be a formidable opponent for Bayh. This just got a whole lot more interesting…

  23. I see good candidate recruitment on both sides of the aisle but I want to reply to your post.

    North Dakota: Were pretty sure Dorgan got the heads up that Hoeven was getting in and knowing it was said and done he retired.

    Bunning was forced out by Mitch McConnell and the KY establishment. They all know he’s a loon and he would lose in Nov so they ran him out of town basically with Trey Greyson as their man. Although it could be him or Rand Paul that gets the GOP nod.

    Biden didn’t want to tangle with Castle so he didn’t run, which prompted all the Beau hate here.

    No doubt the GOP has gotten their act on ecruitment but the Dems has well, except in DE where they dropped the bal thanks to Beau Biden but the hury is out as fas as i’m concerned because I want to see how Coons campaigns againist Castle.

  24. As for Bayh, giving his popularity and cash i’m not worried but it won’t be a landslide like in ’04 where we won with 62 percent of the vote. Quite frankly I just want him to win pure and simple whatever it’s be 15,000, 5,000, 500 or 5 votes I just want the W.

  25. I agree.  As long as Bayh wins, I could care less about his margin of victory.  I just don’t believe Indiana will elect a retread like Coats.

  26. in which you implied that candidates did not matter in these states. It was because strong(er) candidates got into the race that forced retirements (Dorgan, Bunning) or made others hold off on challenges (Biden). Candidates matter because you cannot beat someone with no one.  

  27. Way back when, in the mid-1980s, I’ve heard stories from the political old(er) timers of how Republicans tried to get a very young Evan Bayh booted off the ballot when he ran for Secretary of State, because he really was a resident of Virginia (where he grew up when his dad was a Senator) and not Indiana.  The more things change ….

  28. is more dangerous than an ignorant one. I remember Dan Coats’ politics very well. If he isn’t quite as extreme as some of the Teabaggers, he’s damn close! Compared to Coats, Dick Lugar is Ted freakin’ Kennedy!

  29. Dan Coats is not Dick Lugar, and isn’t even Mitch Daniels.  But he’s not as wacky and stupid as someone like John Hostettler or Dan Burton (or a whole host of other loonies we have here — Congressional candidate Wacky Jackie being at the top of the list).

    Being out of the game for so long, he’ll be able to perhaps (re)posture himself a bit, so we’ll see if he leans more towards solid mainstream conservative or teabagger.

  30. In some cases is didnt matter who the GOP ran in certain states like ND or AR because no matter who the Republican can win as your seeing in AR where Blanche Lincoln is getting killed by 3rd tier opponents. Some states the candidates matter like the GOP gettng Rob Portman to run in GOP. I was still optimistic that even with Jim Bunning retiring someone like Jack Conway would win but now when I see polls when he even losing to Rand fraking Paul, it was a forgone conclusion that when Bunning retired the seat was going to remain in GOP hands. So yeah it’s a mix where candidates in states matter.

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