Evan Bayh

Evan Bayh Biography.com

Governor, Educator, U.S. Representative, Lawyer(1955–)
As Indiana governor, Evan Bayh was the first Democrat in 20 years to be elected to that office, and, at 33, was the youngest governor in the United States.

Synopsis

Evan Bayh was born December 26, 1955, in Shirkieville, Indiana. In 1986 he was elected Indiana's secretary of state. Two years later, he was elected governor. He was first Democrat in 20 years to hold that office and, at 33, the youngest governor in the U.S. Supporters say he met challenges such as the rising costs of Medicaid. He was re-elected governor in 1992. His second term expired in 1997.

Early Life

Senator. Born Birch Evans Bayh III on December 26, 1955, in Shirkieville, Indiana. At the time of his birth, his father, Birch Bayh II, was a hog farmer and a member of the Indiana legislature. In 1962, Birch Bayh was elected to the U.S. Senate and moved his family to Washington D.C. where Evan grew up.

Birch Bayh sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976, but lost to Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter. Bayh was defeated for re-election in 1980 by Congressman and future U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle.

Evan Bayh's mother, Marvella, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1971 and died April 24, 1979. He said her death instilled in him a determination to make the most of his life. He attended high school at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C. and graduated with honors in business economics and public policy from the Indiana University of Kelley School of Business in 1978. After receiving a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1981, Bayh clerked for a federal court judge and then entered a private law practice in Indianapolis.

Entry into Politics

Bayh formally entered politics in 1986 when he was elected Indiana's secretary of state. Just two years later, he was elected governor. He was first Democrat in 20 years to hold that office and, at 33, the youngest governor in the U.S. Although consistently popular, Bayh's administration was considered cautious. But supporters say he met challenges such as the rising costs of Medicaid and the need for more prisons while cutting taxes and balancing the budget. He was re-elected governor in 1992 with 62% of the vote, the highest percentage of the vote in a statewide election in modern Indiana history. By the end of his second term Bayh had an approval rating of nearly 80 percent. After his second term expired in January 1997, Bayh accepted a lecturing position at the Indiana University School of Business in Bloomington.

Election to U.S. Senate

In 1998, Bayh returned to politics and was elected to the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by his father. Bayh defeated Paul Helmke with 64% of the vote, the largest victory margin ever by Democrat in a U.S. Senate race in Indiana. In 2004, he was re-elected by soundly defeating Republican challenger Marvin Scott.

When Bayh arrived in Washington in January 1999, one of his first tasks as a senator was to pass judgment on President Bill Clinton, who had been impeached by the House. Bayh voted "not guilty" and Clinton was allowed to complete his term of office.

More conservative than his liberal father, the second Sen. Bayh established himself as a centrist who seeks common ground with Republicans. In the Senate, Bayh organized a group called the New Democrat Coalition, and in 2001 he became chairman of the influential Democratic Leadership Council. A member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees, Bayh was co-sponsor of the resolution which authorized President George W. Bush to go to war in Iraq in 2003.

Presidential Contender

In the presidential election of 2000 and 2004, Bayh was on the list of possible running mate for presidential candidates Al Gore and John Kerry and it was widely speculated that Bayh would one day make a run for president on his own. On Dec. 3, 2006, Bayh announced on This Week With George Stephanopoulos that he would create a presidential exploratory committee as the next logical step in seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. But less than two weeks later, on Dec. 15, Bayh said he had decided not to seek the nomination after all.

Bahy married Susan Breshears in 1985. She is a law professor and serves on several corporate boards. They have twin sons, Birch Evans "Beau" Bayh IV and Nicholas Harrison Bayh, born in 1995.

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