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Dan Coats Statement: 'Testing Waters' for Bayh Challenge

1:03 PM, Feb 3, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Reports were this morning that former Sen. Dan Coats was definitely in for a run against Sen. Evan Bayh in Indiana after fellow Hoosier Rep. Mike Pence said 'no' to the idea, perhaps with his eye on a 2012 presidential run.

Coats has now released a statement that sounds sanguine, but doesn't have him fully committing until a later date:

Throughout my life, I have been drawn to serving my country, starting as a young man in the Army, and then as a member of the House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and most recently as the U.S. Ambassador to Germany.

After coming back from Germany I was content to return to the private sector. But like many Hoosiers, I have become increasingly alarmed and frustrated about the direction of our country and the failure by leaders in Washington to listen to those they were elected to represent.

While Hoosier families have tightened their belts and sacrificed to make ends meet during these tough economic times, our elected officials in Washington continue to run up massive deficits, recklessly borrowing and spending record amounts of taxpayer money with no regard for the future generations of Americans who will inherit this staggering and ever-increasing debt.

Simply put, our current path is unsustainable, and we need to take bold and immediate steps to get our country back on track.

After much thoughtful consideration, I have authorized my supporters to begin gathering signatures as I test the waters for a potential challenge to Evan Bayh in 2010. Over the next few weeks, I will be talking to Hoosiers from all walks of life, and I will make a formal announcement regarding my intentions in the near future.

The DSCC has already attacked Coats, a registered lobbyist, as a "Washington insider" in what will likely be their refrain throughout the campaign:

"Dan Coats is a federally registered lobbyist whose client lists include banks, private equity firms, and defense contractors," the statement reads. "Indianans won't ignore Dan Coats' decade as a lobbyist working the system to gain special favors for the banking industry at the time of financial collapse and at the expense of working Americans."

Pence released this statement:

"I am very excited about the possibility that former Senator Dan Coats may run for the United States Senate in 2010 and I sincerely hope he does it. His integrity and conservative record would make him the ideal candidate for Hoosiers. If he runs, I will support him."

Some note that Coats will need significant help from the national party if he's to get the signatures he needs quickly enough to get on the primary ballot. The May 4 GOP primary already has four candidates, "including former Rep. John Hostettler and state Sen. Marlin Stutzman." And, Chris Cillizza wonders whether Coats puts the Senate majority in play.

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