Bayh Likely To Pick Up Senate Seat in Indiana; Fundraising Troubles GOP
By Alan Greenblatt, CQ Staff Writer
(CQ, April 18) -- Indiana has voted for an unbroken line of Republican
presidential candidates dating back to 1968, but former Gov. Evan Bayh is
expected to be the only Democrat this fall to make easy work of picking up a GOP
Bayh hopes to recapture the seat his Democratic father, Birch, once held
(1963-81). Republican Sen. Daniel R. Coats is retiring after one full term.
The field of Republicans gathered for the May 5 primary is mildly
contentious. Peter Rusthoven, a former Reagan administration counsel and
speechwriter, enjoys support from the state party establishment, but Fort Wayne
Mayor Paul Helmke remains better known.
The liveliest House contests will take place in the southern third of the
state. Former state Rep. Baron Hill will attempt to hold for the Democrats the
9th District seat being vacated by 17-term Rep. Lee H. Hamilton.
Former state Sen. Jean Leising, who came within a few whiskers of unseating
Hamilton in 1994 but lost more decisively in their 1996 rematch, is hoping the
third time will prove to be the charm. Her most formidable primary opponent is
Michael E. Bailey, an anti-abortion activist who was Hamilton's opponent in
Just to the west in the 8th District, Democrats are hoping that Republican
Rep. John Hostettler remains vulnerable after winning his two terms by narrow
margins. They have essentially cleared the field for Evansville City
Councilwoman Gail Riecken to oppose him.
In the Indianapolis 10th, freshman Democrat Julia Carson has made a few
missteps during her first term but will be favored to hold the seat against any
of her prospective opponents.
She most likely faces a rematch against former state Sen. Virginia
Blankenbaker. But 1994 GOP nominee Marvin Scott and jeweler Gary Hofmeister are
also seeking the Republican nod.
Bayh is a personally attractive figure Democrats hope to groom for national
stardom (he gave the keynote address at the party's 1996 convention).
Bayh was governor from 1989 to 1997, presiding over a healthy economy and
leaving the state with a $1.7 billion surplus. He also implemented an
overhaul of the state's welfare program that led to a decline in the rolls ahead
of the federal welfare law (PL 104-193). (1996 Almanac, p. 6-3)
Indiana Republicans complain that Bayh has shamelessly stolen many of their
issues. But such supposed appropriation has left many groups that normally would
be expected to oppose a Democrat, including business interests, content with
Bayh, lending him support or at least staying neutral.
That has made fundraising tough for the Republican hopefuls. None of the
three GOP candidates has yet broken the million-dollar mark in fundraising,
while Bayh, who enjoys a free ride in the primary, has raised more than four
times that amount.
Leading the financial charge is Rusthoven. He is considered an articulate
bearer of the conservative word on social and fiscal issues.
Rusthoven has been more vociferous in his criticism of President Clinton's
ethics than most Republican candidates nationwide thus far, arguing that moral
values "are more important than Dow Jones stock values in measuring the
greatness of America."
Helmke, meanwhile, has caused enmity in GOP circles with his embrace of some
Clinton budget proposals and general friendliness toward the president (the two
were classmates at Yale Law School).
Helmke is president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and is focusing his
message on the idea that local government control is preferable to federally
Hill, who faces nominal primary opposition, has gotten off to a good start as
Hamilton's anointed successor, raising far more money than his Republican
opponents and campaigning to build on the name recognition he enjoys in
"I think Baron Hill is going to be tough to beat, particularly since he's not
in the typical Democratic position of being underfunded," said Thomas Wolf, a
political scientist at the Indiana University campus in New Albany.
Leising has antagonized many Republican Party officials in the past by loudly
complaining about insufficient financial support for her runs against Hamilton.
Her fundraising remains in poor shape, but, she claims, "I purposefully let my
contributor base rest" during 1997.
Bailey, who has virtually no money for advertising, enjoys a core of support
among religious conservatives and has been spending his time in discount store
parking lots handing out literature. He won national attention in 1992 with TV
ads picturing aborted fetuses, but he has pledged not to run such ads again if
Carson had some difficulty finding her footing in Washington. Heart bypass
surgery delayed the start of her term, and she was sued by the city of
Indianapolis to recover the cost of destroying a property she owned.
But Carson, a perpetually underrated campaigner, likes to joke that her
biggest worry now is that for the first time in her long political career she's
starting out the race ahead in the polls.
Republicans are hopeful they can erase Carson's lead. Blankenbaker is favored
to make it a rematch, but faces familiar charges from within the GOP that she is
too liberal to present a meaningful contrast with Carson. (Blankenbaker supports
abortion rights and gun control and opposes the death penalty.)
"When you've got two liberals running, there is no reason for people to
switch over from the other party," said GOP state Rep. R. Michael Young.
Young is managing Hofmeister's effort, which enjoys the support of prominent
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