Coats to come out of retirement to challenge Bayh

posted at 12:15 pm on February 3, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

When Rep. Mike Pence officially dismissed the possibility of challenging Sen. Evan Bayh’s re-election bid, Democrats appeared to heave a sigh of relief.  That relief will be short-lived.  Dan Coats, who represented Indiana in the House and Senate for eighteen years, has decided to challenge his successor in this year’s election:

In an exclusive statement to Howey Politics Indiana, Coats explained, “Throughout my life, I have been drawn to serving my country, starting as a young man in the Army, and then as a member of the House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and most recently as the U.S. Ambassador to Germany. After coming back from Germany I was content to return to the private sector.  But like many Hoosiers, I have become increasingly alarmed and frustrated about the direction of our country and the failure by leaders in Washington to listen to those they were elected to represent.  While Hoosier families have tightened their belts and sacrificed to make ends meet during these tough economic times, our elected officials in Washington continue to run up massive deficits, recklessly borrowing and spending record amounts of taxpayer money with no regard for the future generations of Americans who will inherit this staggering and ever-increasing debt.”

How does this impact the playing field?  Politico reports that the GOP is delighted to see Coats return to electoral politics:

“Coats deciding to run is a product of the environment we’re in right now,” the GOP official said. “This is a great opportunity for us. We have a real player on the field that they weren’t expecting us to have.”

Coats isn’t the only former Congressman in the race.  Former Rep. John Hostettler, part of the 1994 Contract with America class, has already thrown his hat in the ring, as has state Senator Marlin Stutzman.  Neither of these two have won a statewide election before now.  Coats won his own Senate term after first coming to the Senate by appointment to fill Dan Quayle’s seat after he won the 1988 election to become vice president.  Coats retired after that term, allowing Bayh to beat Fred Helmke for the seat, but later served as Ambassador to Germany.

Unfortunately for Coats, he may be best remembered now for his attempt to help George Bush win confirmation to the Supreme Court for Harriet Miers.  Coats was the sherpa forced into defending Miers’ lightweight resume by arguing that the court had perhaps become too intellectual.  Since then, Coats has stayed out of the political limelight altogether, and may never have thought to run again until disaffection with Democrats reached its current fever pitch.

Still, the emergence of Coats makes Bayh’s re-election look less certain than it did after Pence’s demurral.  It also indicates how strong the draw will be for strong Republicans to enter races in the midterms.

Update: Indiana, not Illinois.  I’ve had Illinois on the brain today, sorry for the confusion.


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Is anybody here still mad about the Harriet Miers nomination???

RushBaby on February 3, 2010 at 12:17 PM

Fantastic news.

nickj116 on February 3, 2010 at 12:18 PM

Another problem: Coats is registered to vote in Virginia, where he lives.

amerpundit on February 3, 2010 at 12:19 PM

Is anybody here still mad about the Harriet Miers nomination???

RushBaby on February 3, 2010 at 12:17 PM

It was a dumb move, but at least Bush corrected it before it was too late. Somehow I can’t picture Miers shaking her head in disagreement at the SOTU.

Doughboy on February 3, 2010 at 12:19 PM

Another tired, old retread.

Knucklehead on February 3, 2010 at 12:19 PM

RushBaby on February 3, 2010 at 12:17 PM

the latina makes meirs look like a rhodes scholar.

jbh45 on February 3, 2010 at 12:20 PM

If only Harriet Miers was Latina

mjbrooks3 on February 3, 2010 at 12:21 PM

Dan Coats, who represented Illinois in the House and Senate for eighteen years, has decided to challenge his successor

I’m confused… how did Bayh succeed Coats in Illinois?

mankai on February 3, 2010 at 12:22 PM

Meh. Coats was a good guy while a Sentaor, but he became just another money-grubbing DC lobbyist after he left the Senate. It’s a little late for him to act like he is just another pissed-off Hoosier now. This reeks of opportunism on Coats’ part and desperation on the GOP’s part.

rockmom on February 3, 2010 at 12:23 PM

The huddled masses at Hot Air, still clinging to our guns and religion, eagerly anticipate the imminent return of Allahpundit (PBUH).

Emperor Norton on February 3, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Dim money spent defending Bayh, Boxer and the IL and DE seats will mean less money they have available to spend on races they thought would be more competitive, like AR.

Lou Budvis on February 3, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Dan Coats represented Indiana… not Illinois.

Enoxo on February 3, 2010 at 12:25 PM

*** Yawn ***…..

One career policiian looking to replace another career politician.

Doesn’t Indiana have any new blood out there looking to make a positive impact on the country?

UltimateBob on February 3, 2010 at 12:26 PM

Someone get Ed coffee.

Enoxo on February 3, 2010 at 12:26 PM

Is anybody here still mad about the Harriet Miers nomination???

RushBaby on February 3, 2010 at 12:17 PM

Mad? No. But it was a stupid move on W.’s part. I don’t hang any of the stench on Coats though. He was just being a loyal GOPer.

rbj on February 3, 2010 at 12:26 PM

the latina makes meirs look like a rhodes scholar.

jbh45 on February 3, 2010 at 12:20 PM

Sonya just shot a gang sign in your general direction.
/

VegasRick on February 3, 2010 at 12:26 PM

I also don’t like the term “comes out of retirement” in the headline. Coats hasn’t retired at all, he has been doing what all ex-politicians seem to do nowadays, cash in by becoming a lobbyist. He is still part of the Beltway establishment, just not as an official Senator.

rockmom on February 3, 2010 at 12:27 PM

No more career politicians please. 18 years? Ugh.

Socmodfiscon on February 3, 2010 at 12:28 PM

it was a stupid move on W.’s part. I don’t hang any of the stench on Coats though. He was just being a loyal GOPer.

rbj on February 3, 2010 at 12:26 PM

That’s what I thought. I can’t imagine how his role as her sherpa could be an impediment to his campaign. Sherpa is a big honor.

RushBaby on February 3, 2010 at 12:28 PM

argg sorry for the strike rbj

RushBaby on February 3, 2010 at 12:28 PM

That relief will be short-lived. Dan Coats, who represented Indiana in the House and Senate for eighteen years, has decided to challenge his successor in this year’s election:

Thanks, Ed.

;)

mankai on February 3, 2010 at 12:29 PM

Don’t know enough about him to comment. Was he a reliable conservative?

Pros- experience, maturity, networks to pull together signatures, endorsements, $.

Cons- has said multiple dumb things, age (66, I think), ties to Bush, etc.

Hmmm. Have to mull this one over.

cs89 on February 3, 2010 at 12:30 PM

I just hope Coats takes care of that awful combover before he runs. Maybe he should consult Joe Biden.

cat-scratch on February 3, 2010 at 12:31 PM

I’ve had Illinois on the brain today

That’s never good, but since you are in MN, what’s the difference.

WashJeff on February 3, 2010 at 12:31 PM

The huddled masses at Hot Air, still clinging to our guns and religion, eagerly anticipate the imminent return of Allahpundit (PBUH).

What’s up with that anyway? I don’t think he’s posted since the weekend.

califcon on February 3, 2010 at 12:33 PM

VegasRick on February 3, 2010 at 12:26 PM

i wouldn’t have gone with the term “latina”, but her name just isn’t all that memorable to me.

jbh45 on February 3, 2010 at 12:35 PM

No more career politicians please. 18 years? Ugh.

Socmodfiscon on February 3, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Would you kick Jim DeMint to the curb after 18 years?

I wouldn’t.

(Not saying Coats is a DeMint)

clement on February 3, 2010 at 12:37 PM

Still bummed about Pence declining to run.

changer1701 on February 3, 2010 at 12:38 PM

If he’s good only for one R vote to give the Senate back to the GOP he’d be worth it.

Yeah, he’s another career politician but oh well…..

Indiana voters is there NO ONE that’s young, Conservative and sharp enough to take on this challenge?

PappyD61 on February 3, 2010 at 12:40 PM

califcon on February 3, 2010 at 12:33 PM

I think they’re just getting back from the “Company meeting.” I expect we’ll see his content on here later today or tomorrow, we’ll see.

Any good “Palin messed up by…” stories on the internet for him to kick off a multipage comment thread?

cs89 on February 3, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Coats is a solid Conservative.

I’m so tired of the same old crap from you people. He’s the best candidate we have in the race now, and the most likely to win. But all you do is bitch and moan. It’s tired. Get a new gig.

nickj116 on February 3, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Harriet was just one example of what people reject from the GOP. I am not sure there is still anger over her nomination so much as there is some serious levels of frustration with the GOP for pursuing similar forms of insanity such as allowing someone like Kirk to run as a Republican. NY 23 all over again.

While Coats is not Kirk, he does represent something this country does not need and that is a weak Republican. The nation is going to need Congressional members who love this country more than political power and who will be willing to take a chainsaw to the federal government. We are going to need people from every state who want to remove things such as the National Endowment for the Arts, ACORN, SEIU, and the Ad Council from receiving any federal monies if we want to save the country from financial destruction. I do not see Coats doing this.

freeus on February 3, 2010 at 12:42 PM

PappyD61 on February 3, 2010 at 12:40 PM

Looks like we’re going to end up with 4-7 in the primary. Let’s just hope we end up with a good choice, and don’t inflict mortal wounds on one another in the primary process.
The goal is Bye Bye Bayh!

cs89 on February 3, 2010 at 12:42 PM

Folks, do me a favor please. Please look at Marlin Stutzman. He’s currently a state senator here in IN. He is the genuine article, I’m tellin ya.

http://www.gomarlin.com.

Oink on February 3, 2010 at 12:43 PM

argg sorry for the strike rbj

RushBaby on February 3, 2010 at 12:28 PM

No problem. Done it myself.

rbj on February 3, 2010 at 12:43 PM

OT: Cornhusker Kickback II

OmahaConservative on February 3, 2010 at 12:45 PM

You know what? Allahpundit has more optimism than half of you.

“Coats is old, he’s a career politician, he’s acted as a lobbyist, **yawn**.”

Coats is a solid Conservative with a real chance to win.

Guess that doesn’t matter though.

nickj116 on February 3, 2010 at 12:45 PM

Our ruling class believes they’re entitled to their seats.

New blood, please.

tsj017 on February 3, 2010 at 12:47 PM

If only Harriet Miers was Latina

mjbrooks3 on February 3, 2010 at 12:21 PM

Being a wise caucasian just doesn’t cut it anymore.

UltimateBob on February 3, 2010 at 12:47 PM

Hoosier daddy?

Daggett on February 3, 2010 at 12:54 PM

Every democrat must be challenged, with a solid conservative if possible, if not a squishy RINO will have to do.

A full court press will keep the democrat party spending money, time, and keep them on the defensive. Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good enough.

Rebar on February 3, 2010 at 12:57 PM

…allowing Bayh to beat Fred Helmke for the seat…

Just a minor correction, Ed. It was Paul Helmke.

Anyway, from what I’ve heard, Helmke was more liberal than Bayh so the voters of Indiana didn’t have much choice.

From Helmke’s wiki page:

Helmke attended Yale at the same time that former President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton and was an acquaintance of each.

In May 2006 Helmke was named President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. In the wake of the Virginia Tech Massacre in April 2007, Helmke made many network appearances on such programs as the CBS Evening News and ABC World News, fielding questions on gun control.

In typical Republican form, Bayh had no conservative opponent.

jaime on February 3, 2010 at 12:59 PM

Coats looks a little like Zombie Reagan, only without the good hair.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on February 3, 2010 at 1:03 PM

Daggett on February 3, 2010 at 12:54 PM

Nice.

cs89 on February 3, 2010 at 1:06 PM

Coats is a solid Conservative with a real chance to win.

Guess that doesn’t matter though.

nickj116 on February 3, 2010 at 12:45 PM

He hasn’t lived in Indiana for years. Democrats nailed Rick Santorum and Elizabeth Dole for the same thing. They know how to run this kind of campaign. They will portray Coats as a fatcat lobbyist who doesn’t even vote in Indiana anymore.

There has to be someone better who has real homegrown support and credibility who can take down Evan Bayh.

rockmom on February 3, 2010 at 1:07 PM

Doesn’t Indiana have any new blood out there looking to make a positive impact on the country?

UltimateBob on February 3, 2010 at 12:26 PM

I share a similar attitude. While I don’t remember what Coats’ voting record/ideology was…where are the younger candidates burning with the conservative fire? I’m all for the “coming out of retirement to help the cause”, but would much prefer a bold, NEW face. Not so much an anti-Coats stance as a pro-strong, new face stance for my state.

search4truth on February 3, 2010 at 1:10 PM

nickj116 on February 3, 2010 at 12:45 PM

All we’re saying is, give us some new blood.

Doesn’t Indiana have a Scott Brown? Do we have to keep looking to the past for our candidates?

This reminds me of New Jersey a few years ago, when the Dems couldn’t find a candidate to run for US Senate, so they dug up the retired Frank Lautenberg and ran him. He was in his 70s at the time. He must be about 90 by now.

I get sick of seeing the same old farts screwing up the country from inside the beltway all the time, until they die. Since we don’t have term limits to keep the corruption in check, the best thing we can do is to look at new candidates whenever we have the chance.

UltimateBob on February 3, 2010 at 1:10 PM

That’s never good, but since you are in MN, what’s the difference.

WashJeff on February 3, 2010 at 12:31 PM

ZING! :eek:

SouthernGent on February 3, 2010 at 1:12 PM

Coats looks like a stern but kindly old great uncle, a typical white patriarchal patriot. Find someone of the caliber & youth of Brown or Palin who can infuse the race with excitement.
Coats looks like an old comfortable coat.

OmahaConservative on February 3, 2010 at 1:15 PM

Oh My! Hopeandchange.

BigMike252 on February 3, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Dan Coats will be just fine. After all, Rasmussen Reports’ most recent Indiana polling (released January 25) showed that while Mike Pence led Bayh (47/44), Hostettler trailed Bayh (41/44) and Stutzman trailed Bayh even worse (33/45). And then Pence declined to run.

Emperor Norton on February 3, 2010 at 1:18 PM

Doesn’t Indiana have any new blood out there looking to make a positive impact on the country?

UltimateBob on February 3, 2010 at 12:26 PM

“New Blood” is now a codeword for “politician without enough money and/or connections to have a prayer of getting elected”.

Dark-Star on February 3, 2010 at 1:24 PM

Is Dan Coats too old to make a comeback after retirement from the Senate? There is a precedent–Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) had retired from the Senate in 1994, then won election in 2002 after Robert Torricelli’s re-election campaign cratered on serious ethics problems.

Lautenberg was 78 years old when he returned to the Senate in 2002. Dan Coats is much younger–he will turn 67 this year.

Steve Z on February 3, 2010 at 1:35 PM

How about Buh-Bye, Bayh?

kens on February 3, 2010 at 1:45 PM

I don’t recall that Coats was one of the brightest bulbs in the Senate during his first go around. I’d like to know more about Hostetler.

Old Fritz on February 3, 2010 at 1:45 PM

I think the current GOP contenders are:

Dan Coats

Marlin Stutzman, State Senator, in his 30s.

John Hostettler, former U.S. Congressman (defeated by Brad Ellsworth in 2006), in his 40s.

Richard Behney, owns a plumbing business and active in Tea Party movement.

Don Bates, Jr., businessman.

Looks like we have a variety of candidates, and folks seem to smell blood in the water. Just a matter of the right candidate emerging from the pack to take the seat.

I pray we choose wisely.

cs89 on February 3, 2010 at 1:48 PM

Coats looks like a stern but kindly old great uncle, a typical white patriarchal patriot. Find someone of the caliber & youth of Brown or Palin who can infuse the race with excitement.
Coats looks like an old comfortable coat.

OmahaConservative on February 3, 2010 at 1:15 PM

I’m telling you, it’s Stutzman.

Oink on February 3, 2010 at 1:53 PM

Mad? No. But it was a stupid move on W.’s part. I don’t hang any of the stench on Coats though. He was just being a loyal GOPer.

rbj on February 3, 2010

True. Miers was totally George W. Bush’s pretzel to choke on. Coats may have questions to answer, but this isn’t one of them.

Extrafishy on February 3, 2010 at 1:55 PM

Oink on February 3, 2010 at 1:53 PM

Good looking family.

OmahaConservative on February 3, 2010 at 2:09 PM

“New Blood” is now a codeword for “politician without enough money and/or connections to have a prayer of getting elected”.

Dark-Star on February 3, 2010 at 1:24 PM

Like Scott Brown, right?

/eyeroll

UltimateBob on February 3, 2010 at 2:32 PM

Bayh = Toast

Haiku Guy on February 3, 2010 at 3:22 PM

Unfortunately for Coats, he may be best remembered now for his attempt to help George Bush win confirmation to the Supreme Court for Harriet Miers. Coats was the sherpa forced into defending Miers’ lightweight resume by arguing that the court had perhaps become too intellectual. Since then, Coats has stayed out of the political limelight altogether, and may never have thought to run again until disaffection with Democrats reached its current fever pitch.

Coats also supported making Palin the VP for McCain and lobbied for her. Palin, like Miers went to a state university and was considered not top drawer by much of the elite. It is strange how it was okay for Coulter to trash Miers for her lack of an Ivy League education in much the same way Brooks would also disparage Palin.

I live in Indiana and I like Coats, I also like Hostettler. But I do think Coats has a better chance of winning.

Terrye on February 3, 2010 at 3:26 PM

I’m telling you, it’s Stutzman.

Oink on February 3, 2010 at 1:53 PM

I have lived in Indiana for decades, and I have never heard of this guy.

Terrye on February 3, 2010 at 3:28 PM

All we’re saying is, give us some new blood.

Doesn’t Indiana have a Scott Brown? Do we have to keep looking to the past for our candidates?

This reminds me of New Jersey a few years ago, when the Dems couldn’t find a candidate to run for US Senate, so they dug up the retired Frank Lautenberg and ran him. He was in his 70s at the time. He must be about 90 by now.

I get sick of seeing the same old farts screwing up the country from inside the beltway all the time, until they die. Since we don’t have term limits to keep the corruption in check, the best thing we can do is to look at new candidates whenever we have the chance.

UltimateBob on February 3, 2010 at 1:10 PM

Oh come on, who is this supposed to be anyway? Right now there are no fewer than 3 new faces running in the primary in my district for the chance to run against Brad Ellsworth, the blue dog. But it is one thing to run a campaign in a congressional district, it is another for an unknown to run in a state wide election. Scott Brown had been in Mass politics for years btw.

Terrye on February 3, 2010 at 3:32 PM

I should have made plain, the primary I was referring to was the Republican primary, 8th District IN.

Terrye on February 3, 2010 at 3:33 PM

Mad? No. But it was a stupid move on W.’s part. I don’t hang any of the stench on Coats though. He was just being a loyal GOPer.

rbj on February 3, 2010

True. Miers was totally George W. Bush’s pretzel to choke on. Coats may have questions to answer, but this isn’t one of them.

Extrafishy on February 3, 2010 at 1:55 PM

The truth is Coats actually did support Miers for the same reason he supported Palin, he liked and respected them both. For some reason it was okay for Frum to make fun of Miers being too common. I think Miers was treated badly by a lot of people on the right, she was given the same treatment Palin got and for a lot of the same reasons.

Terrye on February 3, 2010 at 3:36 PM

Is anybody here still mad about the Harriet Miers nomination???

RushBaby on February 3, 2010 at 12:17 PM

Sort of, more over how it began the decline of Bush’s very promising presidency than the actual move. More importantly though, I’m in the top fraction of a percent when it comes to following politics and I didn’t remember that. I seriously doubt it’ll be an issue.

jarodea on February 3, 2010 at 5:09 PM

http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=MjNhN2FmOTRkNDc4Y2RlNzUzZWJiOTA4NWE2NzhmYzg=

Former congressman Chris Chocola (R., Ind.), president of the Club for Growth, tells National Review Online that former senator Dan Coats (R., Ind.) is a “very appealing candidate” and that he “would like to sell Coats’s candidacy to our members in coming days.”

nickj116 on February 3, 2010 at 6:16 PM

Find someone of the caliber & youth of Brown or Palin who can infuse the race with excitement. Coats looks like an old comfortable coat. OmahaConservative on February 3, 2010 at 1:15 PM

Hoosiers are excited about Richard Behney, founder (with his wife Laura) of Indy Defenders of Liberty and IndianaTEA Party, and the Tax Day Rally that drew over 10,000 to the Indiana State Capitol. He is also an independent small businessman richardbehney.com . He is fiscally Conservative and Constitutionally-principled. Richard brings a breath of fresh air to stale old business-as-usual politics in Indiana. Plus he has hundreds of “boots on the ground” from the TEA Party.

indypat on February 3, 2010 at 7:31 PM