Indiana Democrats must hold caucus to replace Baron Hill

Politicians, depending on their party, have been quick to criticize or lend support to one potential Democratic challenger in the race for Indiana’s open U.S. Senate seat.

But before former Sen. Evan Bayh or another Democrat can replace Baron Hill on November’s ballot, the Indiana Democratic Party’s State Central Committee will have to hold a caucus and vote on the candidate to fill that vacancy.

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody has called for a formal meeting of the committee at 5 p.m. July 22, and candidates must file their intent to run with the state chairman and the Indiana Election Division by Tuesday.

The committee’s 33 voting members are elected and appointed officers, district chairs and vice chairs, elected national committee members and national committee members from Indiana, two representatives of the Indiana Young Democrats and one representative of each recognized caucus, according to the rules of the Indiana Democratic Party.

Hill’s withdrawal from the Senate race was a surprise to many, including Monroe County Democratic Party Chairman Mark Fraley, who said Tuesday that he had discussed the race with Hill the week before.

Fraley isn’t on the State Central Committee, and instead votes to elect the party representatives who soon will vote on Hill’s replacement. The nominee with the majority vote will be on November’s ballot.

Statewide caucuses are infrequent, Fraley said, but the party is “highly committed to ensuring that we are going to have a Democratic representative in the Senate,” he said.

“We believe Indiana can play a key role in delivering control of the Senate to the Democratic Party come next year,” Fraley said. “We’re going to do everything in our power to ensure that happens, whether it’s Bayh’s name on the ballot or any other exceptional Democrat who could possibly be considered for this position.”

Bayh, or anyone else who replaces Hill, will face Republican Todd Young of Bloomington, the current U.S. representative from Indiana’s 9th Congressional District, in the November election.