I've long made a habit of warning our side that if we take Hillary for granted, we'll regret it; similarly, if Hillary takes Evan Bayh for granted, she would be very foolish indeed. The Democratic Senator for Indiana is considered by some to be the most likely primary candidate to unseat Hillary, so let's take a closer look.
Birch Evans Bayh III - Official Senate page
Americans for Bayh unoffical 2008 website
Resume - son of former Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Birch E. Bayh II; two-term Senator from Indiana; former Indiana Secretary of State; member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence; chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council; advocate of 'Third Way' politics (think Tony Blair in the heartland); two-term Governor of Indiana (1989- 1997)
As Chip Bennett recently noted, all the signs of a 2008 run are present for Bayh. I think we can safely assume he'll be around for the primaries. It is in the primaries that Bayh would face his most difficult battle, one symbolic of the struggle for the Democratic soul: will the Dems be the party of Bill Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council, or the party of Howard Dean and MoveOn.org? (Ironically, Bayh would be a more representative 'New Democrat' candidate than Clinton's own wife).
The problem is the Democratic Leadership Council is relatively centrist, as is Bayh, and that's anathema to the Kossacks and their ilk. For Markos, MoveOn.org, and the other Radical Left elements, it is apparently more important to preserve an atmosphere of vitriolic hate and crude profanity towards Republicans than to ever win another national election. It's the 'purity' (ha!) of the movement that counts, you see. Of course, what MoveOn and Kos don't realize is that their 3 million members and 400,000 daily visitors aren't symptomatic of a larger America that agrees with them - in fact, those numbers capture virtually everyone in America that agrees with their viewpoint - call it the Unsilent Minority, if you will.
What's all this got to do with Bayh? Plenty. I believe that the Democratic primaries of 2008 will be the most important held for that party since the days of Vietnam; truly, the future of the party is at stake. Hillary, Bayh, the DLC, the New Democrats - they understand this, and have taken pains to distance themselves from the Radicals. The 'progressives' are motivated, though, united in their belief that the entire world is composed of idiots that have been brainwashed into selling out; they make a fearful noise, and one of their own is now the Chairman of the Democratic Party.
If the centrist wing can recapture the primary process, and if the centrists consider Hillary to be the bearer of too much baggage to win (two big ifs, I know), then Bayh may present himself as a quite attractive alternative. Personally, I'm rooting for the centrists; although the partisan in me relishes a fight against the Progressives, I believe we need a strong Democratic Party to engage us in meaningful debate. Needlessly to say, we'll have more on this as events develop.
CURRENT ODDS: 17-1
UPDATE 07/04/05 10:38 p.m. central: Once you get past Hillary, this is shaping up to be a weak field. Bayh's a player, for now...
CURRENT ODDS: 12-1