In a recruiting coup, former GOP Sen. Dan Coats plans to challenge Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana in November, Republican
officials said Wednesday.
The GOP has sought new opportunities to pick up seats and cut into the Democratic majority
on Capitol Hill after Republican Scott Brown’s recent upset in a special Senate election in Massachusetts.
brings a high profile to the race, where Republicans believe the two-term incumbent Bayh may be vulnerable.
was in 1998 when Coats decided not to seek re-election, avoiding a race with then-Gov. Bayh. Since then, Coats has served
as ambassador to Germany under President George W. Bush and worked as a lobbyist in Washington.
The GOP officials
spoke on condition of anonymity because Coats hasn’t announced his intentions.
Republicans intend to make an issue
of Bayh’s support of President Barack Obama’s agenda, including health care legislation and the economic stimulus.
In a statement to Howey Politics, a political news Web site in Indiana, Coats said he was re-entering politics because he
is "increasingly alarmed and frustrated about the direction of our country and by a failure of leaders to listen to those
they were elected to represent."
The deadline to file for the race is Feb. 19.
Coats is a conservative
Republican, while Bayh is a moderate Democrat who toyed with the idea of running for president in 2008.
retired in 1998, he said he was tired of constantly raising money to run for office. Bayh went on to defeat the mayor of Fort
Wayne, then won re-election comfortably in 2004, even as President George W. Bush captured a second term.
are likely to make an issue of Coats’ work in the private sector, which has included lobbying for financial companies.