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Ellsworth A Go For IN-Sen, But Cannot Announce Until May

Brad Ellsworth has ended the coyness and announced his interest in a candidacy for the US Senate seat held by the retiring Evan Bayh. Ultimately, however, the decision is not up to him; it’s up to the Indiana Democratic Party, which can choose a replacement on the ballot because no candidate qualified for the primary. However, they just learned that they cannot formally choose that nominee until May:

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker, who had said he wanted a candidate quickly, said Thursday that “the sooner rather than later has now become later.”

Parker had hoped to call a meeting of the Democratic Party’s state central committee’s 32 voting members as early as next week. But after party attorneys researched state law, they discovered they could not fill the ballot vacancy until after the primary […]

The delay complicates the Democrats’ scenario considerably.

Members of Congress such as Ellsworth and Hill will be on the primary ballot for re-election to their congressional seats, but at the same time perhaps signaling to voters that they’d rather be in the Senate.

They could withdraw from the primary ballot by Monday’s noon deadline — but with no assurance that the committee ultimately would pick them for the Senate job.

Surely there will be some behind-the-scenes coordination, to alleviate the potential scenario described above. But basically, nobody could set up a candidate fundraising committee until May. Nobody could start soliciting funds until May. Nothing could really happen until May, at which point the Democratic nominee will start several months behind the Republican challenger.

But don’t worry, Evan Bayh said this was a great idea because Democrats wouldn’t have to allow a vote of the people.

Incidentally, another name has surfaced as a possibility other than Ellsworth or Baron Hill – Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, who has indicated his interest and is actively seeking the nomination. He claims support from at least two party leaders of the 32 who would make the decision. McDermott was a Republican before switching parties in 2003.

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David Dayen

David Dayen