The Herald Bulletin

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Editorials

February 3, 2010

Editorial: Sen. Evan Bayh: Seems like we hardly know ye

If Evan Bayh’s position as U.S. senator is vulnerable, and it certainly appears to be, he should blame himself.

Once a rising star in the Democratic Party and a favorite son in Indiana, Bayh too seldom sets foot in his home state and too often vacillates when it comes to public policy. Current political backlash against Democrats and the Obama Administration makes his position even more tenuous.

Here in Madison County, Sen. Bayh is seen with more frequency than Halley’s Comet, coming around in six-year cycles synchronized with elections. Sure, he was in Anderson for Sen. Hillary Clinton’s big presidential campaign rally at the Wigwam back in March of 2008. But that was nearly two years ago, and Bayh’s appearance was motivated by political leverage. He was noted as a potential running mate for Clinton.

Since then, he was featured during August 2009 in the Indiana Living Biography series at the Pendleton Community Library. But the one-evening event was set up for Bayh to speak about his life, not about public policy.

Bayh also has a reputation among some in the local business community for inaccessibility in Washington. Visitors to Indiana’s other senator, Richard Lugar, report being greeted with thoughtful attention, while Bayh is often too busy to spare a few minutes.

Bayh is sometimes lauded for his moderate approach to public policy. In the best of interpretations, he votes his conscience rather than adhering to partisan politics. But in times like these, such an independent streak can look like weakness or pandering.

Recently, a host of prominent Republicans have been tapped as potential opponents of Bayh for November’s general election. Mike Pence, the Anderson area’s congressman and a relevant player on the national political scene, was rumored to be considering a run at Bayh’s seat.

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