This is interesting local coverage from the Indianapolis Star:
It’s been a rough few days for Sen. Evan Bayh.
After years of holding a near death grip over so much of the state’s Democratic Party establishment, the junior senator from Shirkieville has taken a series of very public hits in recent days.
From Democrats, no less.
What I’ve been calling the Stick-It-To-Evan-Bayh tour began last week when Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel announced he would endorse Sen. Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential primary.
Bayh, as you know, is campaigning for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as hard as he’s ever campaigned for anyone other than, well, himself. So the Weinzapfel endorsement was notable for at least two reasons.
First, he is seen as one of the state’s rising Democratic stars. Second, there was a time when straying from Evan Bayh on such a crucial matter would have cast doubt over an Indiana Democrat’s political future.
Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Baron Hill, D-Seymour, also endorsed Obama, giving the Illinois senator another superdelegate. To Bayh, Hill’s endorsement was a superdiss.
The Weinzapfel and Hill announcements were interesting. But former state and national Democratic Party Chairman Joe Andrew outdid them both. Standing in Obama’s Indiana headquarters Thursday, Andrew announced he was switching his support from Clinton to Obama.
It was another superdelegate for Obama. It was also another perceived knock against Bayh — by one of his own.
After all, Andrew became state party chair in 1995, when Bayh was governor and making the decisions for Indiana Democrats. With that history in mind, I asked Andrew about his move being perceived as a public slap at Indiana’s senator. He said that wasn’t the case and promised to encourage Obama to consider Bayh as a running mate.
That was great spin.
But Andrews is a political pro and no doubt understands how damaging his announcement is for Bayh. At a time when Clinton seems to have momentum in Indiana, the defection of three top Indiana Democrats has some wondering if Bayh’s power has weakened.
Of course, Bayh will gladly trade some temporary weakness for a Clinton victory next Tuesday. But unless Clinton somehow becomes the nominee, it looks like his grip on Indiana politics is a thing of the past.