In Indiana, Dan Coats is forming an exploratory committee to run for the Senate seat currently held by Democrat Evan Bayh. Coats held the seat himself from 1989 1999, in between Bayh and Dan Quayle. He has high name recognition in the state, is well respected by conservatives in Washington and Indiana, and is popular in evangelical circles. Coats's decision to run is seen as a major recruitment coup for national Republicans and some are even speculating that this might mean the Senate majority is in play in 2010.
As political analyst Chuck Todd pointed out, Coats decided to retire in 1998 rather than face an uphill battle against Bayh. It is significant that Bayh's name doesn't deter Coats now. The only downside is that Coats will need substantial national party help to get the signatures required to appear on the Republican primary ballot. Coats has less than three weeks to obtain 500 signatures in each of the state's nine congressional districts; he'll need to have 4,500 valid signatures overall. This isn't necessarily the best year to be seen as the national party's candidate.
I spoke with former Rep. John Hostettler this morning. He and Coats are old friends, but he isn't getting out of the race. "I think there are significant enough differences on domestic and foreign policy that Americans, and particularly Hoosiers, need to debate," Hostettler told TAS. I recently wrote about Hostettler's potential as a candidate after Mike Pence decided to take a pass on the race.
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