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November 6, 2013

KITCHELL: 'Dem bums' can only apply to Dodgers, not candidates

Now that former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg is out of the 2016 race for Indiana governor, the speculation begins.

Who will the party’s nominee for governor be in 2016?

There are several possibilities — some intriguing. Others are a bit less inspiring to the point that the Democratic Party’s worst critics might refer to them the way Brooklyn fans viewed the Dodgers before they won a championship at Ebbetts Field — “Dem bums.”

First, the $1 million question on anyone’s mind in this discussion is “Will Evan Bayh come back to run?” I don’t know that Bayh knows the answer to that himself right now. If he does, Indiana will be a battleground state in 2016, but this again assumes that Bayh isn’t the No. 2 person on his party’s presidential ballot. If he is, the governor’s race is out of the question. If he runs, Mike Pence will be an underdog no matter what he does in his four years in downtown Indianapolis.

Until the presidential primary and convention scenarios unfold, Indiana Democrats have to proceed with the notion that Bayh will not be a candidate. Sure, he created momentum when he ran for governor in 1988 and 1992, and sure, Frank O’Bannon continued that legacy in 1996 and 2000. But Democrats have to find a new way to gather steam and produce momentum that matters in 2016. Coming up with a ticket that maintains a north/south chemistry in the state would help. But just who is on that ticket anyway?

It’s too early to even handicap the candidates, so let’s take a look at what the party needs: Someone with a plan, a passion for Indiana and no fear of running in a state where most consider Democrats starting out behind even before they start. Here’s some possibilities:

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