Indiana Senator Evan Bayh was highly touted as a potential running mate for Senator Hillary Clinton. But after last night’s primaries, it’s increasingly unlikely that position will be available. To anyone. However, by helping Senator Clinton win Indiana’s Democratic primary, Senator Bayh has created a new opportunity: running for Vice President on an Obama-Bayh ticket.
Senator Bayh was a two term governor of Indiana who lowered taxes, balanced budgets, demonstrated a commitment to improving education and creative approaches to welfare. As a Senator he sits on the Armed Services committee (along with Senators Barack Obama, John McCain and Hillary Clinton), the Intelligence Committee and Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.
Most significantly, he’s a proven vote getter in a red state who appeals to the working class voters Senator Obama has been losing to Senator Clinton. His selection as a running mate by Senator Obama would be a clear signal to these voters that they would neither be ignored nor forgotten in an Obama administration.
As an added bonus, turning to Senator Bayh to complete the Democratic ticket would be a magnanimous and potent gesture to the Clinton campaign. Senator Bayh was an early endorser of Senator Clinton. They are long time friends and close allies. He campaigned tirelessly on her behalf in Indiana. An Obama-Bayh ticket would not be as unifying as an Obama-Clinton teaming, but it would still go far in binding the party together again after the long and sometimes vicious primary fight.
Some will argue that Senator Bayh, being from Senator Obama’s neighboring state, fails to offer geographic diversity. True. Who cares? Governor Bill Clinton and Senator Al Gore were both from the South, yet they won. Besides, the Midwest is hardly a region Democrats can ignore.
The pluses far outweigh any minuses. Senator Bayh is a moderate (he’s a former chair of the Democratic Leadership Council). He has deep experience as an executive dealing with domestic issues and as a Senator on matters both foreign and domestic. He helps bring the party together and bolsters Senator Obama’s appeal to Reagan Democrats. As a visible and strong supporter of his primary opponent, his selection would underscore Senator Obama’s commitment to reaching across political divisions.
All of this means that the biggest winner Tuesday night may have been Senator Evan Bayh.