Democrat Hill eyes Senate run

Sen. Dan Coats’ recent announcement that he plans to retire from Congress at the end of 2016 has left a Seymour native with a quick decision to make.

Democrat Baron Hill said Thursday that he’s considering a run for the Senate seat now held by Coats, who is a Republican.

“After Coats announced his decision not to run for re-election, I had several people call and ask me to consider running for the seat,” the 61-year-old said.

Hill, a former 9th District congressman, is not the only Hoosier considering a run for the Senate. Bloomington Republican Todd Young, the present 9th District congressman, also said Thursday that he was considering a run for Coats’ seat.

The two would be joining a field that already features former Indiana Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb, who announced his decision to seek Coats’ seat Thursday. Holcomb resigned his position as Coats’ aide Wednesday.

Earlier this year, Hill said he was considering a run at the governorship, an office held by Republican Mike Pence, a Columbus native, in 2016.

He has yet to make a decision about that possibility.

“My focus within the last year has been running for governor,” Hill said. “More importantly, though, this is not about me just running for office but about what can I do to best serve the people of Indiana.”

Hill said he has spent the past 30 years serving the public. He represented the 9th District, which includes Jackson County, from 1999 to 2005 and 2007 to 2011. He also was a member of the Indiana House of Representatives from 1982 to 1990, and he made an unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate in 1990. Coats was his opponent that year.

Hill said he does not have a timeline for making a decision about running for either office.

“I will be discussing that with family, friends and supporters,” he said. “I have to make a decision fairly soon.”

He said he does not have any campaign funds left from the 2010 congressional campaign, which he lost to Young, and he has not started the process of raising money for the governor’s race. Either race would likely require a lot of funding.

Hill said it’s pretty early in the process, and his other major focus of late has been helping his friends try to win mayoral elections across the state.

“That’s kind of where my head is at right now,” Hill said.

He said he also talked with Evan Bayh, former Indiana governor and senator, on Wednesday, and it appeared Bayh wasn’t planning to run.

“He didn’t rule it out,” Hill said of Bayh.

Young said in a news release that running for the U.S. Senate is a big decision, but it is something that he and his wife are prayerfully considering and working through as a family.

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Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.