INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Todd Young, a three-term Republican congressman and former Marine Corps intelligence officer, upended an Indiana political dynasty on Tuesday, delivering Evan Bayh the only defeat of his three-decade political career.
“I’m told by many people it’s a big deal, but I’m just looking forward to serving the people of Indiana and serving this country,” Young said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Young’s victory keeps in Republican hands the seat held by retiring Sen. Dan Coats.
Bayh, 60, was strong favorite to capture seat when he unexpectedly entered the race in July with a famous Indiana political name, millions of dollars in his campaign bank account and hopes of helping his party retake the Senate.
But the Democrats’ prized recruit faced a barrage of withering attack ads from Young and his allies that questioned Bayh’s residency in Indiana, his ethics and his lucrative business dealings since leaving the Senate six years ago.
By late October, Bayh’s big early lead in the polls evaporated despite previously enjoying a sky-high approval rating during his two terms as governor and 12 years in the Senate, where his father Birch Bayh also served.
But Bayh’s post-Senate work also left him open to accusations that he had become Washington insider who left Indiana behind to work for a lobbying firm. Bayh did himself no favors when, during a television interview in August, he forgot the address of the Indianapolis condo that is listed on his drivers’ license and voter registration as his home.
The AP reported last month that Bayh spent substantial time in 2010, his last year in the Senate, searching for a private sector job, while voting for or seeking changes to legislation that benefited the corporate and financial world. The AP also reported Bayh’s schedule showed he stayed in hotels rather than his condo during rare visits to the state.
Addressing supporters in Indianapolis Tuesday night, Bayh encouraged civility.
“I ask all of you here this evening as we nurse our disappointments, tomorrow reach out to those who perhaps voted in a different direction because they are not are adversaries,” Bayh said. “In spite of what some people may tell you, we have more in common than what divides us.”
For Rose Lenig, an 82-year-old retired teacher from Rolling Prairie in Northern Indiana, Bayh’s absence from the state was reason enough to vote for Young.
“I felt Bayh was here just to get a Senate seat and I think he left Indiana and he shouldn’t be returning,” Lenig said. “How would he be representing Indiana people when he hasn’t lived here for so long?”
Young, 44, is a Naval Academy graduate who was a Marine Corps intelligence officer and aide to former Sen. Richard Lugar. He received an MBA from the University of Chicago and a law degree from Indiana University. He was an attorney living in Bloomington when he narrowly won a four-way Republican primary and then defeated Democratic Rep. Baron Hill in 2010, riding the Tea Party wave into Congress.
On Tuesday, Young took up the bipartisan mantle Bayh cultivated since his election as Indiana’s Secretary of State in 1986.
“It sounds outright bland, but people here in Indiana want conscientious public servants who have deep convictions, but are prepared to work across the aisle when possible,” he said.
While Young often says he wasn’t raised in a political family, his wife Jenny is a niece of former Republican Vice President Dan Quayle, who rose to prominence by defeating Bayh’s father in Indiana’s 1980 Senate race
Young said many wrote him off after Evan Bayh entered the race, which was one of a half-dozen around the country that Democrats targeted to make gains in the U.S. Senate.
“I’m a competitive person. I like to overcome great challenges,” he said. “People stepped up during what could have been an insurmountable situation in the minds of many people.”
He will now replace retiring Republican Sen. Dan Coats.
“I’m prepared to work with anyone — anyone — who has common sense workable solutions,” Young said. “That’s exactly how I’ll approach the jobs regardless of who occupies the White House.”