In the scramble to replace Indiana Senator Evan Bayh after his abrupt retirement, a growing number of grassroots Democrats are pushing an unlikely successor: John Mellencamp. Though nearly 1,500 people have joined the "Draft John Mellencamp for Senate" Facebook group, the singer's far-left politics and inexperience make him a longshot, say state political experts. Still, says Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, Democrats need a "populist candidate" to hang onto Republican-leaning Indiana. Could the outspoken liberal rock star actually win a spot in the Senate? (Watch a Fox report about John Mellencamp's rumored Senate run)
What an "inspired" idea: As co-founder of the Farm Aid concerts, says Brent Budowsky in The Hill, Mellencamp is an established "voice for working people and a champion of farmers." He's "one of the great advocates of small-town America," perfectly positioned to promote the sort of "'square deal' for Americans that Teddy Roosevelt once championed."
"John Mellencamp for senator from Indiana"
Mellencamp would be terrific — for Republicans: Talk of a John Mellencamp candidacy is "music to my [conservative] ears," says Allahpundit in Hot Air. Democrats are doomed if this far-left nut is the best they can do: A country fed up with liberal excess will reject him — don't forget that Mellencamp once said we should have tried diplomacy with Osama bin Laden — paving the way for a Republican victory this fall.
"New lefty idea: Hey, let's run John Mellencamp for Indiana Senate"
If Mellencamp is so revoltingly liberal, why does the GOP co-opt his songs? President Ronald Reagan's 1984 election campaign "wanted to use the [Mellencamp] song 'Pink Houses' at campaign events," says John Nichols at The Nation. And John McCain actually did adopt the song during his 2008 presidential run, "even as Mellencamp explained that the Arizona senator might not fully 'get' the point of the song about working families living on the backroads of America."
"How does Senator Mellencamp Sound?"
Inexperience doesn't matter...this year: I personally can't see the rocker rocking the vote, says Patrick Goldstein in the LA Times. But Mellencamp has one advantage: "With the Republicans cozying up to all sorts of untested Tea Party oddballs," conservative pundits could hardly engage in their "customary celeb bashing" if Mellencamp were to run. In politics, "this is the year of the amateur."
"American Fool: John Mellencamp for Senator?"
SEE THE WEEK'S RELATED COVERAGE:
• Does Evan Bayh's retirement spell doom for the Dems?
• Video: Evan Bayh announces his retirement
• Related editorial cartoons