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.