Evan Bayh has an Evan Bayh problem.
The former two-term Indiana Democratic U.S. Senator, who retired six years ago, wants his job back – the problem is how he has spent his professional and personal life since he left office in 2010.
In short, it was nowhere near the Hoosier State the once highly popular governor and senator once governed and represented. Instead, he spent the past six years lobbying in Washington D.C., a region most voters believe is out of step with the rest of the country.
Within the last week, Bayh has taken several big hits: first with the leaks of his former senate schedule that showed him spending his senate time meeting with the very Wall Street firms who later employed him; second, since leaving the senate, he has worked for seven corporate Wall Street firms making over $6 million in the past 18 months alone; and third, he owns four homes – two in Washington D.C., one in Florida, and just a condominium in Indiana.
All of this news has dragged his midsummer 20-point lead over Republican congressman Todd Young down to a dead-heat, according to both internal and public polling.
Young faces only one big hurdle, a delicate balancing act of distinguishing himself from Republican nominee Donald J. Trump, while maintaining a close relationship with his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Early on, Bayh was considered a smart get for the Democrats, a popular politician in his own right and respected for his bipartisan governing style. He was seen as the one man who would snatch the majority from the Republicans in what was expected to be a safe hold for the GOP.
More image problems emerged Wednesday for Bayh, when Buzzfeed News reported he rarely attended Senate Armed Services Committee hearings while he was a member between 2003 and 2011. In fact, according to his Senate records obtained by the online news organization, Bayh missed more than 75 percent of the powerful panel's meetings.
The scheduling report also showed as initial invasion of Iraq was furiously engaged on the battlefield, Bayh was attending a reception at the home of the vice chair of Fannie Mae.
He is also facing scrutiny for his tenure as a Banking Committee member because of schedule leaks that showed him holding several isolated meetings with financial services industry executives and lobbyists throughout 2008 – at the same time Wall Street was tanking, and bailouts for big banks were lining up in Washington.
His vote for Obamacare also has the potential to become problematic with the announcement this week premiums will skyrocket come January as choices narrow for the consumer and more and more insurance companies are dropping from the healthcare market place.
As far as that condo in Indiana goes, it appears Bayh might indeed 'call it home, period,' but he never stayed overnight there once during his last year in office in 2010, according to an Associated Press report Monday.
Bayh's problems in his quest for his old seat are essentially self-inflicted; he and his team seem unprepared or unaware of the temperature of an electorate that has little interest in a Washington insider disconnected from his own state.
Bayh has never lost a race in his home state since first running in 1986. The son of former Sen. Birch Bayh, the Bayh family name has been an Indiana mainstay since the 1950’s.
Young, his opponent is an energetic former Marine Corps officer who has shown a willingness to draw sharp lines between the privileged son of Indiana politics and the son of a small businessman and a nurse.
Young has an opportunity to hold this seat for the Republicans, not just on his own merits and accomplishments, but on pointing out Bayh's failures in service, his opportunism, and his support of policies like Obamacare that have negatively impacted Hoosier voters.
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