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Hoosier Sen. Evan Bayh building '08 war chest

Will Evan run in 2008? Looks like it.

Anyone rolling in this much dough so early must be getting in the race. We’ll have to see how far he’s going to get. The article in the Indy Star says he’s already raked in over $250K from New York and $168K from California, so there’s appeal out there. Now you just have to wait and see what skeletons are rattling in his closet, because if there are any, the GOP will find them.

Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh is among the most prolific money raisers in the early jockeying among potential 2008 presidential candidates.

Bayh raised $1.17 million this year through a fundraising arm that will help him raise his profile and build a campaign team, according to recent disclosure reports. Some of that money paid for a public speaking consultant whose former clients include Princess Diana.

But even though Bayh collected more through his political action committee (PAC) than New York Sen. Hillary Clinton did through hers, Clinton showed why she is considered the most formidable fundraiser of the potential Democratic candidates, raising $10 million in six months for her 2006 re-election campaign.

Still, Bayh did raise more money than Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., who have had less-active exploratory campaigns. And he raised more than last year’s nominees — Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards — who still have active PACs and could run again in 2008.

…On the Republican side, only Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., raised more, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, a nonpartisan Web site that collects election finance data. Frist collected $1.9 million.

Other possible GOP presidential candidates — Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Sen. George Allen of Virginia, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain of Arizona — trail Bayh in PAC fundraising.

I’m sorry, but Joe Biden needs to hang it up NOW. He’s so tainted by his gratuitous blow-jobs of the credit card industry that he’s got no chance whatsoever.

Shakes Sis (blogging out of Indiana) did a great overview of Bayh back in January. A snippet:

75% by APHA, indicating a pro-public health record
74% by the LCV, indicating pro-environment votes
63% by CURE, indicating mixed votes on criminal rehabilitation
60% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record
43% by the US COC, indicating a mixed business voting record
33% by CATO, indicating a mixed record on trade issues
33% by the Christian Coalition: an anti-family voting record (versus the 100% scored by Indiana’s Republican Senator, Richard Lugar, or the 0% scored by John Kerry)
30% by SANE, indicating a pro-military voting record
26% by NTU, indicating a “Big Spender” on tax votes

His best records are on Education, Social Security, and Labor:

91% by the NEA, indicating pro-public education votes
90% by the ARA, indicating a pro-senior voting record
85% by the AFL-CIO, indicating a pro-labor voting record

Most notably (for liberals), Bayh’s record is pretty spotty when it comes to abortion and gay rights. He voted for a partial birth abortion ban, though he believes it should be allowed in cases of danger to the mother, and, when Governor of IN, he indicated support for a 24-hour waiting period for abortions, but never proposed or signed one into law. He was also (tentatively) against a federal marriage amendment; I couldn’t find any specific references, but I think it’s safe to infer that he would opt for the standard Dem punt of supporting civil unions but not marriage.

Bayh’s record speaks for itself; the “cons” for progressives are obvious. The pros for centrists, and progressives who believe a centrist is hell and gone better than Bush, are also obvious. He is, without question, an appealing candidate. In fact, an Indy Star article (that is currently not available online) reported that during Kerry’s veep-selection process, Republican pollster Frank Luntz was asked to test the appeal of seven potential running mates. Bayh won hands-down (even beating John Edwards).

It will be interesting to see whether Bayh’s positions from that January snapshot reshape as more attention is focused on him (and that war chest).

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding