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« Can Artur Davis Make History in Alabama? | Blog Home Page | Tanner's District May Not Be Bellwether GOP Hoped For »

Sign Of The Times: Hostettler To Challenge Bayh

In perhaps another indication of Republicans' growing confidence about the 2010 landscape, former Indiana Rep. John Hostettler (R) announced today that he will challenge Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.).

In a YouTube video, Hostettler ties Bayh closely to the national Democratic Party, repeatedly mentioning Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as he criticized the steps taken to address the economic downturn, and claims Bayh and Reid are now blaming others "for their years of failed leadership."

"What do they have to show for it? Unemployment is the highest that it has been in a quarter century," Hostettler says. "We can't afford to allow Harry Reid and Evan Bayh to have six more years to bankrupt our children's future."

Hostettler, a member of the GOP class of 1994, was a victim of the 2006 Democratic wave, losing to Brad Ellsworth. His entrance makes him the biggest name in the GOP field of candidates, and could give national Republicans reason to look more closely at a race that had not necessarily been thought of as a pickup opportunity.

It may be too soon to predict how the former Congressman will perform in a statewide race against a longtime officeholder in Bayh, especially given the nature of his 2006 defeat. He has an interesting profile as one of only a handful of Republicans who voted against the Iraq resolution in 2002.

The announcement could be bad news for Democrats for another reason, though, coming at a time when Reid needs every vote in his caucus to pass health care legislation. The moderate Bayh has been a target of independent issue campaigns already.

"Evan Bayh has been very popular historically in Indiana, from secretary of state to governor and ultimately to senator," St. Joseph County Republican Party chairman Chris Riley told RCP today. "However, the changing political landscape may create more vulnerability than one might have previously expected, and certainly the way he comes down on health care is going to be a major factor in the 2010 elections."