Political prognosticators started last month to foretell a Democrat majority in the Senate, right after former Sen. Evan Bayh announced he would run for his old seat. Given the popularity of the Bayh name in the Hoosier State, holding the seat currently occupied by Sen. Dan Coats became a much steeper challenge for Republicans.
The two parties have squabbled over Bayh’s residency – since leaving the Senate, Bayh has mostly lived in Washington DC, not Indiana – with Democrats saying that voters care about more important issues and Republicans arguing that Bayh has lost touch with the needs of the state.
Both are missing the point.
Someone who doesn’t live in a given state literally cannot serve as its United States Senator. I mean, it’s in the Constitution. Here’s Article I, Section 3:
No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
And the evidence is overwhelming that Bayh does not live in Indiana.
Bayh, who has three multimillion-dollar homes out of state (two in DC and one in Florida) claims that his $53,000 condominium in Indianapolis is his “real” home. But that already farcical assertion was revealed to be a sham last weekend when a local television reporter in Lafayette asked Bayh what his address was.
And he got it wrong.
He named 1142 Canterbury Court – which is a real address Bayh doesn’t live at, but not the particular address Bayh doesn’t live that that the politician meant to say. His condominium is at 1142 Canterbury Square.
Do you know anybody who can’t name his precise primary address? And Bayh gets no slack because the other address is similar and thus easy to misstate. People whose addresses are easily confused with another are particularly careful when listing their address.
The electric bills at this purported primary Bayh residence rarely go above $20 a month. The average electric bill in Indianapolis tops $130 a month. Are the Bayhs secretly Amish? How else can we explain why they are off the grid in their main home?
If Evan Bayh actually lives in Indianapolis, why did he spend hundreds of dollars to stay at a JW Marriott hotel that’s only 25 minutes away from his (dark, so dark) apartment when he came to town last summer?
Then there’s this: CNN looked at reams of paper and found that for several years Bayh has listed one of his Washington homes as his main residence – such as when he applied for an Alaska fishing license and when he contributed to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Then there’s his voting status – he claims to have been an active voter in Indiana continuously since he left office in 2011. But his voter status has twice become inactive. If Bayh thinks voter status is an indication of a person’s residency, that means he thinks it’s a fair way to determine if he’s an inhabitant of Indiana. Since he fails his very own test, he’s clearly not an inhabitant and not Constitutionally qualified to represent the state in Washington.
Voters should have wide latitude in choosing who serves them in public office. But the Constitution gives them limits – not a lot of limits, but there are a few. Voters cannot elect a president who’s only 34 years old. They can’t elect a vice president from the same state as the president. And voters can’t select a Senator who doesn’t live in their state.
If Democrats act responsibly, they’ll get Bayh to withdraw his candidacy – perhaps in favor of Baron Hill, the Indianan the voters legitimately chose as the Democratic nominee before national Democrats pushed him aside for someone with a bigger war chest and more name recognition.
And if Republicans act responsibly, their first stop after a Bayh victory will be to federal court, where they’ll demand the Constitution be followed.