Many insiders (both GOP and Dem) think that Hillary is going to run and has the nomination all but locked up in 2008. There have also been many that have pretty much conceded this would be a two-way race between Sen. Clinton and Mark Warner (with some giving the edge to the more moderate Warner).
But with the surprise exit of Mark Warner last week, there are many feeling left out in the cold. They are the anti-Hillary voters and they feel all that's left is a choice between the Deaniac candidates, and her. (Although she has tried to paint herself more as a centrist over the last couple of years, there are many that haven't been sold, yet.)
But not so fast.
Here comes Sen. Evan Bayh (IN), following in his father former Indiana Senator Birch Bayh's footsteps. And if you live in Iowa or New Hampshire, you will no doubt see him coming soon. In fact, he has already been to both states quite frequently, lately. And now with Warner out, there are some prospective supporters out there who would love a moderate Democrat that could carry a red state.
Bayh carries a red state every time he runs, in an Indiana election. In 2004, a very polarizing presidential campaign, he won a landslide re-election bid with a little over 60% of the vote, while Bush won the state handily. Since Indiana is almost as red of a state as there is, that's what I call carrying a red state. Iowa is a red state with similar demographics to Indiana, despite the popularity of the liberal Tom Harkin.
According to the Indy Star, Bayh is now is seizing on an opportunity that could prove crucial to posing a credible challenge for the party's nod. He is actively wooing potential Warner supporters.
Bayh is an attractive candidate for moderates everywhere, and that includes Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike. And if the Dems are truly interested in regaining the White House with a mandate, they really should take a look at him. His lack of name recognition and slow flow of campaign dollars should both be resolved after a strong showing, in Iowa. That's where Kerry's momentum began, as the anti-Dean candidate.
But the one thing that will hurt him the most in the party will be his vote on Iraq. Never mind that Kerry voted for the war, he was able to tap dance his way out of it. Hillary did too, but most Dems will forgive her, when the moment of truth arrives.
But Bayh may not be so lucky with the Kos Kids and the Dean wing of the party. They will be dead set on making o8 another referendum on Bush, despite the fact he won't be running. (Bayh has not vascillated on the vote, but has criticicized Bush's handling of the war and has done so with growing frequency.) The question will be, how much of the Democratic base is actually hard left, as opposed to just being anti-Bush?
Time will tell how Bayh will fare in the primary process. But one thing is for sure, no one has a lock on it just yet. One only needs to look at the Carter campaign in 76 and the Clinton campaign in 92 as a model. At this point in both of those races, it was assumed that others would be vying for the nomination, and few experts gave either a chance.
That's just about where Evan Bayh is right now.