Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Evan Bayh's Exit from the U.S. Senate Unprecedented in the History of Indiana Politics

Bookmark and Share

Bayh is only elected Democrat from Indiana since popular vote elections to exit the U.S. Senate for reasons other than defeat at the ballot box or death

Being a Democratic member of Congress these days may not be easy. In fact, being a Democratic Senator from the State of Indiana has been a tricky business for most of the past 100 years.

And while Evan Bayh's decision to retire after two terms in the U.S. Senate, is, by at least Bayh's own account, a departure on his own terms, many Democrats are fuming at the junior Senator from Indiana for the vulnerable position his decision has left the Party in the 2010 election cycle.

If Democratic leaders were surprised at Bayh's decision, that is because the move was unprecedented in Indiana politics. Here's why:

Senator Bayh's pronouncement to step aside and not seek reelection gives him the luxury to leave the U.S. Senate on terms not enjoyed by any of his Democratic predecessors in the traditionally Republican Hoosier State.

Prior to Bayh, since popular vote elections were introduced nearly 100 years ago, every other elected Democratic Senator from Indiana exited the Senate 'going down fighting' - by either losing at the ballot box, or by dying in office.

Here is the fate of Bayh's Democratic predecessors:

· The most recent Democratic Senator from Indiana to leave the Senate on terms not of his own making was Bayh's father, Birch (1963-1981). The elder Bayh was defeated by Dan Quayle in his quest for a 4th term during the Reagan revolution election of 1980, when a 58-41 Democratic advantage turned into a 53-46 deficit.

· Prior to Bayh, Vance Hartke (1959-1977) was similarly defeated in his attempt at a 4th term in office - by current Republican Senator Richard Lugar in 1976.

· Future Supreme Court Justice Sherman Minton (1935-1941) lost his attempt at a second term by less than 24,000 votes when GOPer Raymond Willis defeated him in 1940.

· Frederick Van Nuys (1933-1944) died in office near the end of his second term.

· Samuel Ralston (1923-1925) died in office less than three years into his first term.

· John Kern (1911-1917) lost his reelection bid for a second term in 1916.

· Benjamin Shively (1909-1916) died in office in his second term. (Democrat Thomas Taggart was appointed in March 1916 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Senator Shively, but lost the special election to fill his seat that November).

The only Democratic Senator from Indiana to retire, like Bayh, was Samuel D. Jackson, although Jackson was never elected by popular vote in the first place. Jackson only served 10 months in 1944 when he was appointed after the death of Senator Van Nuys. After the November 1944 election, Republican William Jenner took his seat.

Republican Senators from Indiana have enjoyed much more volitional exits as a whole since popular vote elections were introduced in 1914.

While three Senators were eventually defeated in reelection bids (Arthur Robinson, James Watson, and Homer Capehat) and one lost his party's nomination (Harry New), four Senators retired from office (Raymond Willis, William Jenner (twice), and Dan Coats) and a fifth resigned (Dan Quayle, to become Vice President of the United States).

No Republican Senator has died in office in over 130 years.

Bayh, however, cited the death of bipartisan comity on Capitol Hill as a motivating factor in his decision to not seek reelection.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Minnesota Ranks 10th in Nation in Campaign Contributions Per Congressional District in 2009
Next post: Minnesota's GOP U.S. Representatives Launching Aggressive Media Campaign in 2010; DFLers Shying Away

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Which States Have the Longest and Shortest Election Day Voting Hours?

Residents in some North Dakota towns have less than half as many hours to cast their ballots as those in New York State.

Political Crumbs

Mary Burke: English First?

While multiculturalism and bilingualism are increasingly en vogue in some quarters as the world seemingly becomes a smaller place, one very high profile 2014 Democratic candidate does not shy away from the fact that she only speaks one language: English. In an attempt to highlight her private sector credentials working for Trek Bicycle, Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mary Burke boasts on her campaign bio page how she made great strides in international business dealings...while only speaking English: "Despite not speaking a single foreign language, she established sales and distribution operations in seven countries over just three years." Note: According to 2010 Census data, nearly half a million Wisconsinites over five years old speak a language other than English at home, or 8.7 percent, while 4.6 percent of Badger State residents do not speak English at all.


Does My Key Still Work?

Much has been made about Charlie Crist's political transformation from Republican to independent to Democrat en route to winning the Florida GOP and Democratic gubernatorial nominations over a span of eight years. Party-switching aside, Crist is also vying to become just the second Florida governor to serve two interrupted terms. Democrat William Bloxham was the first - serving four year terms from 1881 to 1885 and then 1897 to 1901. Florida did not permit governors serving consecutive terms for most of its 123 years prior to changes made in its 1968 constitution. Since then four have done so: Democrats Reubin Askew, Bob Graham, and Lawton Chiles and Republican Jeb Bush.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting