Baron Hill Exits, Evan Bayh To Enter Indiana Senate Race

Jul 11, 2016

Former U.S. Senator Evan Bayh (left) hopes to join fellow Democrat Joe Donnelly (right) in Congress' upper chamber, following Baron Hill's exit from the race Monday.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Democrat Baron Hill turned the campaign for Indiana’s open U.S. Senate seat on its head Monday when he dropped out -- leaving a path for former Senator Evan Bayh to join the race.

Hill had been trailing Rep. Todd Young (R-9th) in both polls and fundraising. In withdrawing, the Democrat says his party needs a candidate with money and name recognition.

Evan Bayh isn’t confirming that he is that candidate, but political analyst Ed Feigenbaum says he’d have a big advantage.

“And has more name ID without having run for office since 2004 than Todd Young has been congressman for a couple of terms and running for U.S. Senate in the primary," Feigenbaum says.

Bayh also comes with about $9 million more cash on hand than Young.

Still, IPFW political scientist Andrew Downs says people shouldn’t discount how long it’s been since Bayh ran for office.

“His name has not been on the ballot for 12 years," Downs says. "That’s an awful lot of people who’ve come into the process – who maybe didn’t realize who their senators were while he was still serving – who don’t necessarily know his name.”

In a statement, the Young campaign says the Senate seat isn’t the “birthright of a Washington lobbyist.”

The state Democratic Party will choose Hill’s replacement later this month.

EARLIER:

With news outlets announcing that former governor and senator Evan Bayh plans to run for the Senate once more, current Democratic nominee Baron Hill dropped out of the race Monday, sending this press release to his supporters:

Dear friends:

I can’t thank you enough for your support over the last year and a half since I first announced my candidacy for the U.S. Senate. We have worked tirelessly to raise money and to build a grassroots network that would hopefully carry us to victory on Election Day.

I got into this race to put Hoosiers first and to always do what’s right no matter the political cost. That’s how I have run each of my races before, and that’s what I have done throughout my time in public service – from the Indiana General Assembly to the U.S. House of Representatives.

I have never run away from tough decisions or tough fights. But, I am a pragmatic person who will always put my country and my state first. I am also a proud Democrat who wants to see an Indiana Democrat fighting for Hoosier families alongside Senator Joe Donnelly in the U.S. Senate. And, I want to do everything in my power to ensure a U.S. Senate that will govern responsibly.

That is why, after consulting with my family, my staff and party leaders, I am withdrawing from the U.S. Senate race and removing my name from the November ballot.

While our campaign had been making great progress and building momentum all over Indiana, it is simply not enough to fight back against the slew of out-of-state, special interest and dark money that is certain to come our way between now and November.

Democrats have a very real chance at winning this Senate seat, especially with a strong nominee who has the money, name identification and resources to win. I do not want to stand in the way of Democrats winning Indiana and the U.S. Senate. That would not be fair to my party or my state. And, the stakes are far too high in this election not to put my country above my own political ambitions.

In accordance with Indiana law, I have filed the necessary paperwork to withdraw from the race and I have notified Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody. The Indiana Democratic Party’s State Central Committee will now undertake a process to fill the vacancy with a nominee who will win in November.

To those of you who have been with me from the very beginning and who have contributed to this campaign or any of my previous campaigns, I cannot thank you enough for the support you have given to Betty and me. We are eternally grateful, and your faith in us will never be forgotten.

While I am withdrawing from this race, I intend to stay involved and do everything I can to help elect a Democrat to the U.S. Senate. I hope you will continue to do the same.

May God bless you and your family, and may He continue to bless the great state of Indiana.

Sincerely yours,

Baron Hill

Hill was facing a race against the man who ousted him from his 9th District seat in 2010, Todd Young. Young defeated fellow congressman Marlin Stutzman in May's primary election and was viewed as the favorite to take retiring Sen. Dan Coats' seat in the fall.

But Bayh, long the most easily electable Democrat in Indiana, could change the race's calculus. A formal announcement of his candidacy is expected later today.

THIS STORY WILL BE UPDATED.