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Bayh A No-Go on Running For Governor in 2012

It looks like Rocky II isn’t going to happen for Indiana Democrats as Evan Bayh has declared to  the Indianapolis Star that he won’t seek the office of Indiana Governor in 2012.

“After careful consideration, I have concluded that the appropriate decision is not to be a candidate for governor of Indiana in 2012.

Citing a desire to take a break from politics and to spend more time with his family, specifically his twin boys who are entering high school, Birch Evans Bayh III is taking a step back from politics.

Can you blame the man?  2010 wasn’t a banner year for Democrats.  Sitting on $12 million in the bank in January of this year, Bayh could read the writing on the wall and left Indiana Democrats in the lurch with a less exciting than Bayh option in Brad Ellsworth to run in his stead.  Predictably, Ellsworth lost and Republicans captured a senate seat.

With a diminished national star (not because of anything he’s done or hasn’t done, mostly because he’s boring) and constantly being overlooked as a possible VP choice, many had assumed that Indiana’s junior senator would return home (no , not Georgetown, but Indiana) and run for a job at which Bayh did excel.  But alas, in a move that’s seen politically as a kick to the groin to state Democrats, a gubernatorial run just isn’t in the cards.

With Republicans now extremely overjoyed at their prospects, be it either Becky Skillman or Mike Pence, of maintaining the Governor’s office after Mitch Daniels is term limited, Democrats now are faced with a list of less than stellar backup options.

Among those who have either actively been considering a run for governor if Bayh didn’t, or had left the door open, are Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel; U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth, who lost the Senate race to (Dan) Coats this year; U.S. Rep. Baron Hill, who just lost re-election to Congress; U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly; Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez and (former Indiana House Speaker John) Gregg.

All have warts, but at least they’re options.

I’ll say this for Evan Bayh.  In the article by Mary Beth Schneider, Indiana State Democrat Chairman Dan Parker compared a potential Bayh return to that Michael Jordan returning to the Bulls after his first retirement.  And in a sense, as a sports analogy, that’s not too far off.  For Republicans, Bayh was the guy we always wanted to beat, but never could.  The idea of him returning to run was enticing.  We were ready to throw some of the best candidates Indiana has ever produced his way.  We had hoped to throw some of our rising stars at him hoping that we could take advantage of a lost step or two in his game.  Now, it’s not going to happen.  And in that sense, the 2012 Indiana gubernatorial race has lost just a bit of just luster.

That said, the prospect of keeping the governors office for another four years just got stronger.  And that’s an exchange I’ll gladly take.

(Crossposted to Hoosier Access)

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