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.  

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