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Evan Bayh / Government & Economic Development / Government

Comparing Coakley, Bayh

January 20, 2010

The earthquake from the Massachusetts senate race yesterday won’t rumble through Indiana’s own race this year, predicts IUPUI political scientist Brian Vargus.

In Massachusetts, Republican upstart Scott Brown knocked off Democrat Martha Coakley for the seat held by the late Ted Kennedy because she didn’t campaign well and was viewed as aloof, Vargus says. By contrast, Evan Bayh, also a Democrat, is entrenched and would be extremely difficult to beat.

The only candidate to announce a run for Bayh’s seat, John Hostettler, a Republican, isn’t raising enough money to compete with Bayh’s substantial war chest, Vargus says. Hostettler also doesn’t have a large profile outside the 8th Congressional district in southwestern Indiana where he served from 1995 through 2006. “You can’t beat somebody with nobody,” Vargus contends.

Secondly, he adds, Democrats will support Bayh even though the base is disgusted with his relatively conservative voting record.

On a scale of zero to 10, with zero being dead in the water and 10 being invincible, Vargus puts the Bayh’s chances at a seven.

The best shot at defeating Bayh would be to run a populist campaign and paint him as an elitist, Vargus says. Play up his Virginia law degree, his Georgetown home away from home, his wife’s corporate board seats. And even then, it probably wouldn’t be enough.

Those are Vargus’ thoughts. What are yours? About Bayh? Massachusetts?

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