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Monday, April 12, 2021

Dems, Blacks, others stunned, angry over Sen. Evan Bayh’s bye-bye

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Evan Bayh quit on the people of Indiana.

I don’t know how I can say it any clearer or unambiguously.

In a year when Republicans are pulling out all the stops to recapture maximum power – full control of Indiana’s Legislature – who or who doesn’t get prosecuted in Marion County for wrongdoing in Indiana’s government – driving to emasculate President Barack Obama’s agenda – the leader of Indiana’s Democratic Party, the man who’s dominated the party for 24 years, quit when his party most needed him.

The 54-year-old Bayh isn’t retiring from the Senate because of family considerations, health concerns, age or infirmity. To me he’s bugging out when he’s most vital.

I’m sorry, leaving because you can’t stomach Washington’s polarization isn’t a reason to quit. And even if it was, you don’t wait until the day before you must complete the balloting process to give up the ghost.

Evan Bayh’s surrendering of his responsibility to his state and party has thrown the Senate race into turmoil and placed the fate of Democrats from the Statehouse to the courthouse in dire danger.

African Americans, progressives, organized labor and Democrats of many stripes are angry since they started hearing President’s Day morning that our senator said he couldn’t stand with us to fight.

Democrats from Gary to Corydon, Terre Haute to Richmond and everywhere in between are angry at the man who led them for so long, but when the chips were down, cried uncle.

Watching and listening to his Monday valedictory, my breath was taken away when after 12 years in the Senate, Bayh told Hoosiers “I don’t love Congress” and “I’m an executive at heart.”

Well, thanks for finally telling us that!

I’d like to give you more insight into Bayh’s decision, but as he’s done so many other times, he granted no interview to this columnist or to Black media.

This space has never been popular among Bayh super loyalists and I suspect the senator himself. They never understood it wasn’t personal, and that I just reflected what I heard from this community in which I live.

I must respect Evan Bayh’s decision. And he must respect mine.

And when it comes to who should be the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Sen. Evan Bayh has forfeited his right to suggest his successor. The senator must immediately move to the sidelines and have nothing to say on the future of the party.

Senator, you’ve left us on the field of battle. When you moved from leading us to stranding in the safety of the rear, you forfeited your right to lead.

Meanwhile, the Bayh Bombshell overshadowed local Democrats’ slating (endorsement) convention, three days earlier.

Then, Congressman Andre Carson warned that “2010 will be a battle of epic proportions as Republicans make an all out assault on our pro-jobs and pro-middle class agenda.”

Outgoing Sheriff Frank Anderson implored Democrats to “stay together” and “learn to work together.”

Despite his challenge to the party, current Marion County assessor and prosecutor candidate Greg Bowes was allowed to attend in his role as a precinct committeeman. Bowes will fight the party’s endorsed candidate Terry Curry in the critical prosecutor’s race.

Democrats are making a major push in the prosecutor’s race. Calling the Republican slating the “convention of corruption” they hope to make the ethical problems of current prosecutor Carl Brizzi a major issue by including Fox 59 News’ continuing expose that perhaps Brizzi released a convicted murder with a free get out of jail card in return for thousands in campaign cash.

Democrats will hit hard at Republican prosecutor candidate Mark Massa’s deep ties to Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Massa worked for former Prosecutor Scott Newman, not Brizzi. But Massa has tied himself to Daniels’ star. In an interview last week on WTLC-AM1310’s “Afternoons with Amos,” Massa repeatedly mentioned his ties to Daniels.

But I was stunned when Massa said that “he didn’t know” if elected officials should have positions on for-profit boards. Massa said, “You’d have to look at it on a case-by-case basis,” but Massa added that he would “avoid it, not because of an (ethical) conflict” but because of the time it’d take away from official duties.

Besides Massa, Republicans nominated another all-white county ticket. Included was IMPD Sgt. Dennis Fishburn, father of wounded cop Jason Fishburn gained publicity during his son’s travails and trial and strongly supported the Wishard Referendum.

Republicans believe Fishburn’s their Frank Anderson, even though Anderson has managerial experience that Fishburn doesn’t.

Sheriff’s Col. John Layton is the Democrats’ choice and there are early indications that Fishburn and the Republicans plan to make Frank Anderson the issue, going after him with a meat ax.

Democrats re-nominated their incumbent county clerk, assessor and recorder and nominated a newcomer, Joe O’Connor for county assessor. Incumbent County Auditor Billie Breaux gives the Democrats a racially diverse county ticket along with scores of African-American incumbents and new candidates in legislative and township races.

A racial diversity Republicans can only dream about.

Even though, especially with the Bayh news, 2010 has become super critical for Democrats, the 2011 mayoral race loomed at the Dems confab.

New mayoral candidate Ron Gibson was there, not very visible and not finding lots of support. Those campaigning for months, mayoral candidates Brian Williams and Melina Kennedy, greeted delegates and shook hands greeting delegates, while candidate-to-be Jose Evans was also there campaigning.

As Congressman Andre Carson said, the Republicans are coming at Democrats and African Americans with vengeance. Democrats, then, can’t let the 2011 mayor’s race distract them from the urgency of 2010. Democratic voters must make their choices in May and then bring the fight to the Republicans in November.

What I’m Hearing

in the Streets

Despite Snowmaggedon in Washington, the Senate Judiciary Committee held confirmation hearings on Judge Tanya Walton Pratt and four others to be federal judges. Pratt was well prepared and deftly handled questioning from Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, who’s blocked scores of President Obama’s appointees.

Sessions tried to trip up Pratt, but she held her own. Pratt impressed Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar who chaired the hearing with a comment on law clerks Klobuchar, thought was fresh and insightful.

Judge Pratt’s performance should speed her Senate confirmation as Indiana’s first African-American federal judge.

See ‘ya next week!

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