Chris Cillizza reports:
Indiana Rep. Brad Ellsworth has decided to seek the seat being vacated by Sen. Evan Bayh and will announce his intentions in a statement to be released shortly, according to a source briefed on the matter.
Ellsworth emerged as the favored candidate of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the White House in the immediate aftermath of Bayh's stunning decision that he would not seek a third term.
Handsome, telegenic and with the sort of voting record during his two terms in the House that makes him a viable statewide candidate in conservative-minded Indiana, Ellsworth is rightly seen as a recruiting coup for a DSCC that was caught off guard by Bayh's decision (as was the rest of the Democratic political world) and had been badly bruised and battered by retirements and the special election victory of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in recent weeks.
That said, Ellsworth is not Bayh and starts out at a significant name identification disadvantage against former Sen. Dan Coats, the likely Republican nominee. Republican strategists also note that Ellsworth supported President Obama's health care bill last year, a vote they plan to use against him this fall.
This seems like a smart move for Ellsworth. Since there was a very good chance he was going to lose his House seat anyway, he might as well make a statewide run in a tough environment. Ellsworth distinguishes himself from Bayh by casting himself as a fully pro-life Democrat. But during the health care debate, Ellsworth sponsored an alternative amendment to Bart Stupak's. It was opposed by Stupak, and the National Right to Life Commitee called it a "money-laundering" scheme to fund abortions. Ellsworth's amendment reportedly sparked a "furious backlash" back in Indiana, and Ellsworth has since aligned himself with Stupak.
Cillizza reports that "32-member Democratic state central committee will select the party's candidate" sometime after May 4.