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Fresh Coats?


Fort Wayne Reader


Even in today’s polarized, give-no-quarter, “with-us-or-against-us” political climate, where common ground is almost impossible to find and the word “compromise” is usually uttered with a Cheney-esque sneer of derision, there’s one thing that elicits such scorn, such opprobrium, from people on both sides of the political spectrum that it has the possibility to unite us all in a sort of rainbow coalition of hate.

That one thing?

A lobbyist.

At least, if Dan Coats reception in Indiana since announcing his intention to run for Senator a few weeks ago is anything to go by.

Of course, we know that can’t be true — if politicians really hated lobbyists as much as they told their constituents they do… well, we had all kinds of colorful analogies in mind, but for the sake of keeping it clean, we’ll just say there would be fewer lobbyists.

As might be expected, Democrats have jumped all over Coats’ career in the past decade or so as a Washington lobbyist, with clients that include Goldman Sachs and Bank of America. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee circulated a 2008 video where Coats tells a Republican National Convention delegation in North Carolina that he plans to move to their state; the video made newscasts all over Indiana.

But perhaps more surprising is that response from many Republicans has been somewhat tepid, with many pointing out that if the GOP wants to harness some of that populist anger we’ve heard so much about, going with a former senator with lobbying ties doesn’t really say “anti-establishment.” Someone described as a “senior GOP operative in Indiana” told the website Politico, “This year is a reaction against D.C. politics, and this is a guy who was right there in the middle of it. That really is a problem in terms of the kinds of contrasts you want to have against Bayh.”

Against who? Yes, as we all know, the senator that Coats — or maybe Marlin Stutzman, or maybe John Hostettler, or maybe Don Bates — was supposed to replace announced he was not going to seek re-election for his seat this year, citing general partisan rancor as his reason. Apparently, it’s lonely being a moderate these days.

But Bayh made the announcement less than 24 hours before the deadline for candidates to submit petitions to county election boards. This means the Democratic Party’s Central Committee will now choose a senate candidate. John Cornyn, a Republican congressman from Texas who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, suggested that the State Democratic Party ask an Indiana court to extend the candidate filing deadline, claiming that doing so would “remove any appearance of unfair gamesmanship” by the Democrats.

It’s hard to see what kind of “game” the Democrats might be playing here, unless it’s “I’m An Incumbent Facing A Mid-Term Election, Get Me Out of Here!” But Cornyn is concerned that this process bypasses the will of the people, and presumably, he’s also worried that not having to go through a potentially messy primary will give the Democrats an unfair advantage in November. After all, the central committee could just choose a party superstar, a beloved Democratic household name in Indiana politics like… uhh… umm… we’ll have to get back to you on that one.

But so far, at least one hopeful has thrown his name into the ring: Thomas McDermott Jr., Mayor of Hammond, said he’s interested in being the Democrat’s candidate for the senate seat.

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