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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Turning Coats

Some of you may remember that the very day after Scott Brown’s Senate victory in Massachusetts, Republicans began fantasizing about actually taking over the Senate this November, in no small part because former senator Dan Coats had announced he was coming out of retirement to take on the previously unassailable Democrat Evan Bayh in Indiana. Yeah, it was noted at the time that Coats had been living and voting in Virginia for the last decade, while working as a DC lobbyist, but GOPers figured Coats’ long political record in the Hoosier State would enable him to brush that off as a less-than-youthful indiscretion.
But since then, Indiana Democrats, accessing public records, have found out and loudly let it be known that Coats wasn’t just a lobbyist for banks and equity firms, but for foreign governments. He personally lobbied for India, but much more interestingly, his firm lobbied for Yemen. You know, Yemen, that al Qaeda stomping ground where “Christmas Day Bomber” Umar Abdulmutallab got his training.
Suffice it to say that Democrats have not kept this information to themselves. According to a piece in Politico today about the “nuking” of Coats:

“We just hit him with a freight train,” one Democratic official familiar with the anti-Coats effort said Monday. “It’s Politics 101: Frame the guy early.”

The effectiveness of the Democratic attack on Coats is probably best reflected by the fact that none of the Republicans previously in the race to challenge Bayh (including former U.S. Rep. John Hostettler, a fiery conservative) have pulled out. Coats’ proto-campaign has largely confined itself to whining about “mud” being thrown at their hero.
So maybe Republicans shouldn’t be quite so quick to mark Indiana down in the column of likely Senate wins this year.

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