RICH JAMES: McDermott is counting Bayh out too soon

2013-10-27T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: McDermott is counting Bayh out too soonBy Rich James
October 27, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Hey, Tommy, what day is it?

That’s what I thought. You don’t have a clue.

I would have expected more from Thomas McDermott Jr., Hammond's mayor and chairman of the Lake County Democratic precinct organization, when it came to discussing the 2016 governor’s race.

When John Gregg announced last week he wouldn’t make another run for governor, McDermott pooh-poohed the notion that the stage had been cleared for Evan Bayh, the heart of Hoosier Democrats the past two decades.

In fact, McDermott almost sounded like a Republican.

McDermott said the thought that Bayh will be the savior for Indiana Democrats is “wishful thinking.”

In fact, McDermott said Bayh can’t even be a candidate because he doesn’t live in Indiana.

Bayh doesn’t, but all he needs to do is rent an apartment.

Dan Coats didn’t live in Indiana when he announced his candidacy to replace Bayh in the Senate. Coats hadn’t lived here for a decade. Yep, he rented an apartment.

“If Evan Bayh moves here and Evan Bayh starts campaigning like he used to, then maybe I’ll re-evaluate, but right now I refuse to drink the Kool-Aid that Evan will come in and save the day,” McDermott said. “I think it’s up to us to save the day. We have great candidates in Indiana, and we’ll find one in 2016, and we’ll run that person.”

And one of those great candidates is McDermott himself. Just ask him.

“You never know,” McDermott said about being the guy to take on Republican Gov. Mike Pence.

So there, take that Evan.

McDermott is right that there are a number of Hoosier Democrats who would make good governors. The problem is most of them aren’t very well known and probably can’t win. You could say the same about McDermott, who would have a second strike against him, being from Lake County.

As he made his announcement, Gregg didn’t mention Bayh for governor.

But Gregg did say the guy he’s asked a good deal about is Joe Hogsett.

Hogsett, who once was secretary of state, is the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

But the last I heard, Hogsett was leaning toward running for Indianapolis mayor in 2015.

Could Hogsett beat Pence? Perhaps. He is bright and personable and a heckuva campaigner.

Could Bayh beat Pence? Absolutely. He isn’t a fiery liberal like his father, former U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh, but he’s always been the quintessential Teflon man. Bayh has his shortcomings, but no one seems to remember what they are.

But McDermott is right that 2016 is a long way off.

At the rate Pence is going there could be a number of Democrats who could become viable candidates for governor. Maybe even McDermott?

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

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



Does political infighting hamper economic development in NWI?

View Results