DOUG ROSS: Lugar's departure bring back memories of Bayh

2012-12-16T00:00:00Z DOUG ROSS: Lugar's departure bring back memories of BayhDoug Ross, (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357

I'm impressed by Dick Lugar's classy exit from the U.S. Senate. It brings back memories of Evan Bayh's departure just two years ago.

When Bayh announced his retirement from the Senate, he made a plea for bipartisanship. "For some time, I have had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should," Bayh said. "There is too much partisanship and not enough progress -- too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving."

In his floor speech Wednesday, Lugar had strong words about partisan bickering. "It is possible to be re-elected and gain prominence in the Senate while giving very little thought to governance," he said. The Founders would be ashamed of what is happening now in Washington.

Lugar, Indiana's longest-serving senator, has cast more roll call votes than all but nine others in the Senate's history.

His defeat in the Republican primary by Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock followed the pattern of congressional giants being knocked out of office by Tea Party supporters in the primary, only to lose to Democrats in the general election.

Bayh left office willingly. He announced just before the filing deadline that he wouldn't seek re-election in 2010, leaving Indiana Democrats scrambling to find a replacement and ultimately losing the seat to a Republican, Dan Coats, who moved back to Indiana to run for that office.

"At this time, I simply believe I can best contribute to society in another way: creating jobs by helping grow a business, helping guide an institution of higher learning, or helping run a worthy charitable endeavor," Bayh said in announcing his retirement on Feb. 15, 2010.

In Bayh's post-Senate life, he's representing special interest groups, just like Coats did before Coats returned to Indiana. Bayh is a Fox News contributor, a senior adviser at Apollo Investment Management and a partner at the McGuireWoods law firm. How does that match up with what he said he wanted to do? You decide.

Lugar is starting a Washington-based internship program with the University of Indianapolis. He will also deliver a few lectures each year as a distinguished professor at the university. Bayh wanted to lead a university; Lugar wants to teach.

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell put an amusing spin on it during Tuesday's tribute to Lugar on the Senate floor: "And now Dick has decided to press his luck. He's moving into the only line of work where the rivalries are even more vicious than politics. He's becoming a college professor."

What are Bayh's future plans? Good question, but he's leaving his options open. According to the Federal Election Commission, Bayh's campaign fund still had more than $10.1 million in it as of Sept. 30.

Bayh has never lost an election. Maybe he's just waiting until the political climate is right for a moderate Democrat to be elected again.

Editorial Page Editor Doug Ross can be reached at (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 or Follow him at and on Twitter @nwi_DougRoss. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow The Times

Latest Local Offers

Featured Businesses

Submit a Letter to Editor

We welcome letters from readers on any issue of public interest, and make every effort to publish as many as we can and in a timely manner. The Times will publish only one letter a month from a writer, and be sure to include your name, address and a telephone number for verification. Letters should be 150 words or less. They will be edited.

Letters may be submitted:
  • Via our submission form.
  • Via e-mail.
  • Via fax: (219) 933-3249 or (219) 465-7298
  • Via mail or by hand to our offices:
    • 601 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321
    • 2080 N. Main St., Crown Point, IN 46307
    • 1111 Glendale Blvd., Valparaiso, IN 46383
    • 3410 Delta Dr., Portage, IN 46368
    • Please mark envelopes with "Attn: Letters"


Email Editorial Page Editor Doug Ross or call (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357



Who do you support for Porter County commissioner?

View Results