Tales from the Trail

A ‘Cougar’ may be stalking Bayh’s empty Senate seat

February 18, 2010

MUSIC-HALLOFFAME/

After rocking the house for decades, could Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Mellencamp rock the U.S. Senate?

Some Democrats think so and they’re trying to draft him as a possible replacement for departing Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh.

“Don’t laugh, O.K.? I’m very serious,” Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of the left-leaning weekly magazine, The Nation, told MSNBC this week. “He’s a heartland son of Indiana.”

The Nation is polling online readers about possible Bayh replacements and lists Mellencamp as “Rocker and ‘farm aid’ concerts champion.” By contrast, Dan Coats gets the somewhat less dashing moniker: “Former Indiana Republican senator looking to regain his title.”

Meanwhile, a Draft Mellencamp ”movement” has set up shop on Facebook.

Conventional wisdom says Indiana is Republican turf by nature and many pundits expect Bayh’s Senate seat to turn a bright GOP red in November after its two-term Democratic hiatus.

But voters are boiling mad at Congress and the political establishment these days, and some Democrats say Mellencamp — an Indiana native known for his poignant political lyrics about economic strife — could offer voters a welcome change.

Voters are also known to like celebrities, as Ronald Reagan and Al Franken have shown. And Republicans have long acknowledged the influence of Mellencamp’s songs. Reagan used the Mellencamp hit, “Pink Houses,” during  his 1984 reelection campaign. John McCain did the same in 2008 and added ”Our Country” as background music at voter rallies.

Meanwhile, the man in question hasn’t been heard from.  So no one can say if  he’s really interested, or for that matter, whether he’d hope some day to be known as Sen. Johnny Cougar, Sen. John Cougar, Sen. John Cougar Mellencamp or simply as Sen. John Mellencamp.

Photo credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson (Mellencamp)

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