In all of the chaos from the Sen. Evan Bayh retirement announcement, very little attention has been paid to the fact there is already a woman who has almost collected the required signatures for her name to appear on the ballot for Democrats by the name of Tamyra D’Ippolito. Tamyra is a progressive candidate from Bloomington, the beautiful home of Indiana University and akin to the Hoosier version of Austin, TX.
Progressives are welcomed and embraced in Bloomington so her candidacy has been much talked about for months in that part of the state, but most Hoosiers have only now begun to pay attention to the recently warmed up Indiana Senate race that so many assumed would be a boring affair with Evan Bayh on the ticket. Whoops!
Tamyra is a restaurant owner of some fame in her hometown. She has also been an activist and is well known in progressive circles in Indiana. Believe me, those circles are small and we all know one another in some way. She’s been able to collect most of the signatures she needs to gain access to the ballot on the Democrat line in the May primary.
She’s working really hard up to the noon deadline today to turn in her signatures to the county clerk’s offices in 92 counties and nine Congressional Districts where she was required to gather 500 signatures in each Congressional District as proscribed by Indiana law to have her name appear on the ballot.
I contacted Tamyra to gauge her progress last night and she reported that the announcement brought her a lot of media and activist attention and that her team is working all night to get her on the ballot. In talking to her I was also able to corroborate information from another source that it is possible that IN-9th District Congressman Baron Hill or another member of the Indiana Congressional delegation may have been quietly collecting the required 4500 signatures to get on the ballot for U.S. Senate for several weeks throughout all nine Congressional Districts.
In related news, Talking Points Memo reported last night that on a conference call with county chairs from around Indiana yesterday after the announcement Senator Bayh and Indiana Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker suggested it might be a good thing if Democrats don’t have a primary to choose their nominee in May.
Combine those two bits of information and the conspiracy theory writes itself, and then another piece of information is added. When Tamyra and I discussed this she related a very interesting story about a recent campaign event she held at a local eatery in Bloomington which she did not name to protect the owner. At her event while the owner and Tamyra were chatting, she asked if they held a lot of political events at her establishment. The owner responded that they do hold a lot of events there and was very proud to tell Tamyra that she even hosted White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Baron Hill for several meetings recently.
This would have been about four weeks ago when Rahm Emanuel came to Indiana for fundraisers in Indianapolis and Bloomington, but his presence was reported here as being quickly flown in and out. We now know he was in Bloomington for a period of as much as three days according to the restaurant owner meeting with Rep. Baron Hill, a known favorite of party elders and Blue Dogs.
Reports late last night started emerging that Rep. Brad Ellsworth, a popular Blue Dog Democrat from the "Bloody" 8th Congressional District is interested in running. Expect that if Tamyra does not get her signatures to hear his name come up often as a possible replacement candidate on the ticket chosen by the IDP Central Committee by the June 30 deadline, but without a primary in May — a move that will not sit well with party activists and that could split an already fractious Indiana Democratic Party.
Late Update: I have learned that Rep. Baron Hill is currently en route to Afghanistan to visit the troops stationed there and will be out of the country at noon today. I’m not sure what significance this has but there it is.
10:30AM ET Tuesday Update: I wanted to quickly mention that Tamyra was originally scheduled to appear on the Rachel Maddow Show last night to discuss her candidacy but received a last minute cancellation of her appearance on the way to the studio. Her replacement last night? Indiana Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker, with very little discussion about Tamyra’s candidacy.
(Photo: Tamyra D’Ippolito via BloomingtonOnline.net)