GOP Challenges Bayh: Delay Primary To Remove Appearance Of Dems’ Gamesmanship

The Indiana Democrats are on the verge of not holding a primary to choose a nominee for the U.S. Senate, something retiring Sen. Evan Bayh seems to have no problem with and which has a longshot candidate crying foul.

Now the Republicans are getting in on the action, with National Republican Senatorial Committee Sen. John Cornyn challenging Bayh to change the process since it seems like an unfair.

This could end up being a key point, especially given how the Republican party faced serious trouble in New York’s 23rd Congressional district after selecting a candidate from behind a closed door.

Bayh announced he won’t seek reelection yesterday, leaving Democrats with little wiggle room to get a candidate on the primary ballot since 4,500 signatures (500 from each Congressional district) are due today.Cornyn (R-TX) said the five Republican candidates have spent the time to gather their signatures from across the Hoosier State, something he said “makes clear to voters exactly who is running for what office, giving voters, not party bosses, the opportunity to choose their respective candidates.”

In a statement issued by the NRSC, Cornyn pointedly questions the timing of the Bayh announcement and challenges the senator to step in:

Numerous reports over the last 24 hours indicate that Democrats intend to try and bypass the public petition process, making Indiana’s requirement that Senate candidates gather 4,500 signatures meaningless. They seem to assume that Indiana law addresses the scenario of Senator Bayh’s leaving his party with no filed candidate. Moreover, the question should be asked what exactly the Republican candidates have been working so hard to accomplish in recent weeks?

While I believe both parties should have a nominee to offer voters in November, both political parties, and particularly Senator Bayh, should also be committed to a full, fair and transparent nomination process. While I’m not questioning Senator Bayh’s motives behind the timing of his announcement, the reality and ramifications of this timing cannot, and should not be ignored.

Assuming there is no qualified candidate that files the appropriate documentation before the deadline, Senator Bayh should call on the State Democratic Party to ask an Indiana court to extend the candidate filing deadline – both for this Senate candidacy and for any House candidacy that is left open by a Democrat House member who runs for the Senate nomination. Doing so would remove any appearance of unfair gamesmanship by the Democrats while affirming their belief that voters, and not party bosses, should be the final arbiters of elections.

In Indiana, running for Senate is, as it should be, an open and transparent process. It is my hope that Senator Bayh and his Party’s leadership will re-commit themselves to that important principle by immediately rejecting the notion that their nominee will be chosen behind closed doors and allow Hoosiers the opportunity to choose their respective candidates in this important Senate race.