(H/T – Ed Morrissey, who tipped me for finding something in Indiana law regarding what happens if there is no Dem primary)
The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza reports that Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) will not seek re-election. This surprising move comes as the deadline for qualifying for ballot access in the May partisan primary approaches. First, a quick review of the ballot access qualifications and timeline (from pages 16-17 of the 2010 Indiana Candidate Guide):
- A candidate for either the Democratic or Republican nomination for US Senate must get 4,500 signatures on a petition of nomination, with 500 coming from each of Indidana’s 9 Congressional districts.
- The county voter registration office in every county where a petition was circulated must receive the petitions for certification no later than noon local time Tuesday, February 16.
- The certified petitions must be filed with the Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s office in Indianapolis by noon Eastern Friday, February 19.
Now, you might say that leaves the Democrats in a lurch if nobody can get on the ballot. However, Indiana also contemplated a scenario where one of the major parties might not have anybody qualify for a partisan primary ballot (pages 9-10 of the Candidate Guide – all emphasis in the original):
If No Candidate Runs In a Major Party Primary
On occasion, no candidate will file for the Democratic or Republican Party nomination to an office before a primary election. If this occurs, the vacancy may not be filled before the primary. (IC 3-13-1-2)
Immediately following the primary election, the political party may begin the process of filling the ballot vacancy. However, no political party is ever required to fill a ballot vacancy, even if an individual wishes to run as a candidate for the vacant nomination.
For federal, statewide, and state legislative candidates, the state chairman of a political party calls a caucus of the precinct committeemen within the district…. (IC 3-13-1-6; 3-13-1-7; 3-13-1-8)
A person who wishes to be selected by the caucus to fill a ballot vacancy for a federal, statewide, state legislative office, judicial office, or the office of prosecuting attorney must file a CAN-31 form with both the caucus chairman and the Election Division….
The deadline for the Democratic or Republican Party to conduct a political party caucus to fill a vacancy existing on the general election ballot resulting from a vacancy on the primary election ballot is Wednesday June 30, 2010 (IC 3-13-1-2; IC 3-13-1-7).
As Ed noted in Update IV of his post, “…(T)hat process is almost certain to produce a liberal ideologue — the exact opposite of what Indiana Democrats need for the midterms.”