Former congressman Chris Chocola (R., Ind.), president of the Club for Growth, tells National Review Online that former senator Dan Coats (R., Ind.) is a “very appealing candidate” and that he “would like to sell Coats’s candidacy to our members in coming days.”
Coats represented Indiana in the Senate for a decade and retired in 1999 instead of running for reelection against then–Indiana governor, and now incumbent senator, Evan Bayh (D., Ind.). Coats announced his possible candidacy earlier today. He joins a field of four other Republicans in the Senate primary: former congressman John Hostettler, state senator Marlin Stutzman, financial adviser Don Bates Jr., and tea-party activist Richard Behney.
“As an Indiana guy, I know that Dan is doing this for all of the right reasons,” Chocola says. “He’s done his time and served well, but he sees what is happening in Washington and knows that he can’t stay on the sidelines. My sense is that he would have been satisfied with a candidate like Mike Pence, but after Pence decided not to run, felt a sense of duty to jump into the race. His candidacy moves us back in the right direction. He has strong name identification — not as strong as it was ten years ago, but still meaningful — and the ability to raise money.”
“The Club is going to take a hard look at this race, and hopefully we’ll find a way to help Dan get back to the Senate,” Chocola says. “Of course, we’ll make sure we comb over his voting record and do our homework before an endorsement of any sort.”
Is Bayh beatable? “Evan Bayh is a good politician, but he hasn’t stood on consistent principles,” Chocola says. “When he ran for president, he tacked left. After Massachusetts, he has tacked right. It’s all about political expediency. For a long time in Indiana, no one could tell that story. Dan Coats is someone who I think can, as well as anyone.”
“People thought Bayh’s father was unbeatable in 1980, and then Dan Quayle beat him,” he adds. “There was a unique environment in 1980, and I think 2010 echoes it in many ways. There is an anti-incumbent mood building in Indiana, and people are tired of Bayh being a political chameleon. Bayh has had a war chest of cash and the press calling him a moderate for years, and no one ever challenged him. I’d like to help Dan Coats tell that story.”