Senate 2016: Who’s In?
It’s already down to three and you didn’t know it. Senator Dan Coats announced today he would not seek reelection, opening the door to a new generation of Republican leadership. A long expected decision, a handful of leaders have had their eyes on this race for some time.
Rep. Marlin Stutzman, Indiana GOP Chairman Tim Berry and Rep. Todd Young – one of these fine fellows will be filling Coats’ shoes.
Yes, one will be Senator. A state certain to go red in 2016, the only man with the political capital to buck that tide is democrat Evan Bayh. Now let’s be honest, Evan Bayh has no reason to seek the seat again. Essentially a top-notch lobbyist making more in one year than in his entire tenure, it would be like skipping the bank to rob the lemonade stand.
Rep. Marlin Stutzman falls best in line with the brand of conservatism top Indiana Republicans like Governor Pence and Coats carry with them. Adhering to a type of technocratic conservatism each choose their battles wisely but are also willing to stand up to the more establishment-type Washington elites. Finishing in a close second to Coats when he sought the seat in 2010, Stutzman brings a sense of political experience to the race. That said, likely underfunded and lacking a sufficient ground game, 2016 would be an uphill battle for Stutzman. His hero status with the Indiana grassroots could be a big boost in what is bound to be a tight primary battle.
Indiana GOP Chairman Tim Berry recently announced his resignation, leading to a slew of rumors about his future: Governor if Pence runs for President, campaign staff if Pence runs for President, campaign chairman if Pence seeks reelection in 2016, etc. Well, unlike others jumping in the race to the White House, Governor Pence has yet to make a campaign hire and has done little in the way of building a following in early primary states. My guess? He’s off to the races for Governor – at least for now. Making little news about his next steps, Berry has a long history of statewide office. Good on paper, but maybe weaker on the stump Berry could come out ahead in a competitive primary.
Rep. Todd Young is maybe the most interesting of the Senate hopefuls. Good on paper and a skilled politico, Young is certainly interested in the seat. Already wielding a sizable campaign fund and having a well-developed ground game within the 9th district, Young is who I would place my bets on. Coats is calling on a new generation of Republican leadership – despite his more moderate brand of Republicanism, Young seems best poised to answer the call.
Finally, there’s three more maybe less likely names to watch: Coat’s Chief of Staff Eric Holcomb, State Senator Jim Merritt and Indiana Speaker of the House Brian Bosma.