The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray reports on the uphill climb faced by U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) in his attempt to succeed Sen. Evan Bayh (D) to represent Indiana in the U.S. Senate.
Ellsworth is running well behind in the race to replace Sen. Evan Bayh and has now become the face of the Democrats' reversal of fortunes across the Midwest. The state's two other vulnerable House Democrats, Reps. Joe Donnelly and Baron P. Hill, are battling to hold their seats, and Republicans could reclaim the district Ellsworth has represented for the past four years.
The dynamics raise a question larger than any one race - whether new Democrats have succeeded in expanding the political map in any sort of lasting way or whether candidates such as Ellsworth were just in the right place at the right time.
In a year defined, presumably, by an anti-establishment ferver, the Post suggests that Republican Dan Coats is "possibly the year's most unlikely Senate front-runner:"
Coats's resume reads like a list of everything voters have frowned upon this year - he served in the House and Senate before becoming a lobbyist for oil companies, health insurers and Wall Street banks. Until recently he was a resident of Northern Virginia, and he had purchased a retirement home in North Carolina.
But Coats is also known for his interest in fiscal issues, and he is counting on Indiana voters to care more about his ideas for lowering the deficit than his client list. Despite the anti-Washington sentiment that has hurt establishment candidates in other races, Coats is selling his government experience as an asset.