Evan Bayh 1, Baron Hill 0
Well, that's that. Baron Hill will not run for Senate and will defer to Brad "the Beautiful" Ellsworth, effectively guaranteeing the end of his political career.
Indiana Rep. Baron Hill (D) announced Saturday that he will not run for the Senate in 2010.
The decision by Hill, a five-term congressman from Seymour, leaves Rep. Brad Ellsworth the strong favorite to become the Democratic nominee to succeed retiring Sen. Evan Bayh.
Hill praised Bayh in statement released Saturday, and said he intended to remain in Congress.
“Evan has been a devoted public servant to Hoosiers and a fellow companion in pushing for Congress to curb its reckless spending,” said Hill. “And while I agree with him that the partisanship in Washington is alarming, to reference my athletic past – I opt to stay in the game and continue to serve as an independent voice for my Southern Indiana constituents.”
Hill also signaled his support for Ellsworth, a two-term House member and former Vanderburgh County sheriff.
“I believe my friend and colleague, Congressman Brad Ellsworth, is the right man to fulfill the task of ensuring a Democrat is elected to succeed Senator Bayh,” said Hill.
The Indiana Democratic Party will select a nominee, since no Democrats filed for Bayh's seat after the senator's surprise retirement. Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, the chairman of the Lake County Democratic Party, also intends to seek the party’s nomination.
Ellsworth announced his candidacy last week, and he received a boost earlier this week from Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Menendez who during a briefing with reporters said Ellsworth "represents the views of Hoosiers in that state."
Republicans will select their nominee from a crowded field in a May 4 primary. Former Sen. Dan Coats is seen as the frontrunner.
While the popular Bayh had been considered very likely to win his seat in a reelection bid, his decision to leave the Senate appears to create a much more competitive race, which political handicapper Charlie Cook now rates as “leans Republicans.”
The most recent Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely Indiana voters, released Feb. 18, showed Coats leading Ellsworth, 46% to 27%.
Baron's decision to decline a run amazes me; he had to be under enormous pressure from Birch's Boy and Brad the Beautiful not to run.
Baron is the loser in this no matter how you think about it.
Despite his vocal desire to run for Governor in 2012, Baron is likely to see that dream crushed by a bid by Bayh to return to the Statehouse. Every Democrat I talk to takes it as an article of faith that Evan Bayh is going to run for Governor in 2012; that has the effect of sucking the air out of the room regardless of how true (or not) it might be. No future for Baron there.
Also, Ellsworth currently trails badly in Senate polling, but it's still early. Ellsworth will likely lose in November, though perhaps by a much smaller margin than the 20% or so he is currently polling behind Coats, Hostettler, or whichever other Republican comes out of the primary.
So long as the 2010 Senate race is relatively close, Ellsworth will be the de facto Democratic nominee to challenge Dick Lugar (or whichever Republican gets the nod to run to replace him). No future for Baron there, either.
That leaves Baron stuck here in southern Indiana to face Mike Sodrel again in November, and lose. Such a defeat will be the end of Baron's political career, as Monroe County will be drawn out of the 9th District in redistricting next year, effectively making the 9th into a safe Republican seat.
And if, by some miracle, Baron were to beat Sodrel (or face a weaker opponent), Baron would only find himself with a two-year respite thanks to redistrict that will see him defeated in 2012 anyway.
No matter how you slice it, this whole thing has been bad for Baron Hill. He got railroaded out of a chance for a Senate seat, his gubernatorial ambitions have probably been crushed by Democratic dreams of a Bayh Restoration, and the train of Mike Sodrel and redistricting is racing down the track toward him at full speed.
If Baron Hill was a stock, I'd be selling him; it's not going to get any better.