Bayh Won’t Jump Ahead of Brown on Banking Panel

Despite speculation, caucus rules favor incumbent Ohio Democrat

Former Sen. Evan Bayh, center left, has seen his lead in polls of the Indiana Senate contest slip since he first entered the race in July. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Former Sen. Evan Bayh, center left, has seen his lead in polls of the Indiana Senate contest slip since he first entered the race in July. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted August 9, 2016 at 5:00pm

Former Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh won’t be allowed to reclaim seniority and leapfrog a champion of progressive causes on the Senate Banking Committee should Bayh win the Indiana Senate race.

Financial services insiders in an American Banker report broached the possibility that Bayh, who is viewed more favorably by the industry, could cut in front of Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and be in line to take the committee’s chairmanship if Democrats retake control of the Senate.

A senior Democratic aide effectively ended that speculation Tuesday afternoon.

“There’s no doubt Senator Brown will have the top slot on the banking committee next year,” the aide told Roll Call.

The banking lobbyists had speculated that Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat already effectively in line to be majority leader if Democrats take control, may have made an offer to Bayh to get him to commit late to running for Senate.

Bayh is in a tough contest against Republican Rep. Todd Young.

Schumer’s connections to home state banking interests had caused consternation among progressives, who feared that he would himself serve as the top Democrat on Banking, in addition to his leadership role. Schumer decided to take a pass.

The truth is that precedent is squarely on the side of incumbents like Brown being favored over potential returning former senators. Neither Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey, Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota or Alben Barkley of Kentucky was able to reclaim seniority for past years served when they returned to the chamber.

And unlike Bayh, both Barkley and Humphrey had originally left the Senate to become vice president.

Contact Lesniewski at NielsLesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @nielslesniewski.