Democrat Evan Bayh says it’s “unlikely” he will run for governor again, although he won’t finalize his decision until after Labor Day.
The former senator and two-term governor said during the “No Limits” radio show on WFYI that he has given the idea consideration because people he respects asked him to. But he said he’s concerned about political polarization, especially in light of the all-Republican leadership in the General Assembly.
“I’d like to think I’m something of a consensus builder. I’d like to hope I’m bipartisan. I enjoy trying to reconcile differences,” Bayh, 59, told host John Krull.
But Bayh said that “doesn’t seem to be the dominant theme right now in our politics.”
“It’s unfortunately, from my point of view, very divided by partisan lines,” he said. “Given the current makeup of the state legislature and the way the maps are drawn, I’m just wondering if my style of leadership would be feasible right now.”
Bayh served as governor from 1989-1997, after being elected to a term as secretary of state. The gubernatorial win ended 20 years of Republican control of the governor’s office and gave Democrats new energy. Bayh later served as a U.S. senator from 1999-2011.
When he left the Senate – citing concerns about the increasing partisan nature of national politics – speculation grew that Bayh would run for governor. A governor is limited to no more than two consecutive terms but can serve again if he or she sits out at least one term. Bayh has done little to quell the rumors.
Meanwhile, Democrat John Gregg – who was defeated two years ago by Republican Gov. Mike Pence – has said he’s considering a 2016 run for governor. Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott is also thinking about a bid for the party’s nomination.
Bayh said on No Limits, which aired Thursday, that “I did love being governor.” He said he believed it gave him the best chance as a public servant to “help the most people.”
But, he said, “It’s a different time. There are other factors.”
Bayh was 32 when he ran for governor the first time. He would be 61 if he ran in 2016. “A quarter century is a difference,” he said. And he called running statewide in 92 counties “physically a very demanding thing.”
“And so while I didn’t think it was appropriate to consider it, given that people were asking,” Bayh said, “I have said that for a variety of reasons it’s unlikely.”
Lesley Weidenbener is executive editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.