Photo via Guardian
Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) is the latest Democrat to announce that he's jumping ship--he won't be running for reelection this year. While this certainly comes as a blow to the Democratic party--Bayh is popular in his home state, and was 20 points ahead of his Republican opponent in the polls--it also could be a blow to the green movement, as Bayh had a solid environmental record. Then again, it could be good news for the chances of a clean energy and jobs bill passing. Confused? Me too. Let's sort it out. Okay, let's start with Bayh's voting record--he's got a respectable 74% rating of voting in favor of the environment from the League of Conservation Voters. He sponsored an "inter-state compact for Great Lakes water resources" designed to preserve them. He's voted in favor of preservation laws and to force oil and gas companies to install mercury scrubbers on smokestacks. Bayh hasn't been ideal from an environmentalist perspective, but his belonging to a very moderate state put him in a powerful position to influence other moderate-minded politicians.
Which brings us to the clean energy reform bill--Bayh was waffling about it. He was quoted just months ago saying that he didn't want to bring it to vote this year, and that he was skeptical it could pass. Nate Silver put his chance of voting in favor of the bill at 46%. But he seemed to be concerned about it more for political issues than ideological ones--as many moderate Dems do, he likely feared voting in favor of clean energy reform will hinder reelection chances.
And now, Joe Romm argues that since he no longer has to worry about reelection, he's freed up to vote for clean energy reform:
As I said when Sen. Dorgan (D-ND) announced in January he would retire, what's bad news for the Dems in the longer term could be good news for the climate bill in the short term ... Like Dorgan, let's say for now that Bayh is 50-50 or better to vote for the final bill -- and maybe higher for at least cloture. After all, what possible reason could he give to support a filibuster?Which I think is probably right--if momentum grows for bipartisan clean energy reform (and it looks like it may be doing just that), Bayh would have no reason not to side with his party and vote for clean energy reform.