House GOP Conference chair Mike Pence is mulling a possible bid to unseat Sen. Evan Bayh, D-IN., according to several media sources, including NationalJournal.com.
Thought by some to be a long-shot candidate for President in 2012, Pence is apparently being looked over for a 2010 challenge to Bayh, a relatively popular two-term incumbent.
Pence is considered good fodder to potentially make life even more difficult for the shell-shocked Democrats after the resounding Republican victory in the Massachusetts Senate race.
According to the National Journal report, Pence and some of his aides are scheduled to meet today with a team from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) – slated: serious discussion about a run.
NRSC has reportedly polled Indiana voters with results indicating that Pence looks competitive in the long run.
To date, the Republican leadership has yet to produce a star-quality challenger to Bayh, who famously touts a big re-election bankroll. According to the National Journal, he bankrolled $12.7M as of Sept. 30, with much more headed to the coffers before Election Day.
As the number three Republican in the House, leading Senate strategists believe Pence would be able to pull in enough money to compete with Bayh.
Pundits suggest that a Pence candidacy is exactly the sort of thing the GOP needs in the big picture — credible threats against incumbent Democrats to scare them into voting against their party’s heady agenda.
Meanwhile, as Pence is being courted, he issued a statement -- not on his own political future -- but on the significance of the so-called “Massachusetts Miracle,” noting, according to WashingtonIndependent.com: “The American people are telling Washington, D.C. enough is enough. In this special election in Massachusetts, they have sent a deafening message to the political class.”
But whether the strong rhetoric will be back up with strong commitment may depend on dollars and cents. With just $462K in the kitty at the end of the 3rd quarter, Pence is looking to the NRSC to match his political courage with an equally courageous financial stake.
Politico.com has also been keeping an eye on this possible GOP successor to the coup in Massachusetts, noting, “The outspoken conservative could effectively clear the Republican primary field and give his party a top-tier opponent for one of the best funded Democratic incumbents in 2010.”
Bayh, however, is doing everything to paint himself as anything but a likely target, accumulating a voting record that is inconsistent with the Obama agenda 23 percent of the time, according to the Indianapolis Times.
But GOP scalp hunters still highlight Bayh’s votes in favor of health care and the stimulus bill.
A Pence spokesperson, Matt Lloyd, apparently thinks it is still premature to beat the Pence drum, saying only: “Mr. Pence is flattered by the speculation, but is focused on electing House Republicans and serving the needs of his constituents in Indiana.”
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