RICH JAMES: Bayh could run for governor again

2013-06-26T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: Bayh could run for governor againBy Rich James nwitimes.com
June 26, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Is it ever too early to start talking about who will be Indiana’s next governor?

If you are a Democrat, I guess the answer would have to be no.

With a Republican sitting in the governor’s office and the same party holding super majorities in the House and Senate, talk is about all Democrats have left.

Yes, Hoosier Republicans have made a statement since Barack Obama turned this red state blue.

Mike Pence is just six months into his first term as governor.

While it is too early to judge Pence, it is never too early for the political pundits to talk about what might have been and what might be in the future.

Pence won, but it was hardly a landslide. Pence beat former House Speaker John Gregg by 81,000 votes. That’s not much, given the total vote was pushing 2.5 million.

It also wasn’t much considering Pence was a sitting congressman when elected. Gregg didn’t hold office and was looked upon by many as a good old boy with a handlebar mustache.

Some — myself included — speculated that if the campaign had gone on for another two weeks or month Gregg would have won.

While Pence has been governor for just six months, we pretty well know what he is about. It is what he was about as a member of Congress – ultra conservative.

In just six months, he has made it more difficult to have an abortion, continued the erosion of the public school system and won a portion of his income tax cut proposal that will do little for Hoosiers, except for the wealthiest.

When he seeks re-election in 2016, Pence will have to do it with his own team. State GOP Chairman Eric Holcomb and Justin Garrett, the party’s executive director, departed a week ago. That’s not a reflection on Pence.

As of now, re-election shouldn’t be a problem for Pence. Democrats don’t have a rising star – at least one who has risen far enough to be considered viable.

So who is going to take on Pence?

Evan Bayh, the former governor and senator, has to be the answer.

If nothing else, Bayh owes Indiana Democrats. He left the party high and dry in 2010 when he announced at the eleventh hour that he wouldn’t seek re-election.

Bayh — much like Ronald Reagan — has always been a Teflon kind of guy. You can throw anything at him, but nothing sticks or penetrates.

It would be a classic race between two Hoosiers who want to be president but never will.

The winner? If Pence barely beat Gregg, I don’t know how he can beat Bayh. But he has seven-eighths of a term to figure it out.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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