Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., sympathized with all the newcomers to Congress looking around for decent office digs last week. As you may know, offices are parceled out by seniority, and when you are just starting out, you generally get the least-desirable spaces.How will John Mellencamp vote in the 2008 primaries? He's a Hoosier native with ties to both Senators Evan Bayh and John Edwards.
Bayh recalled that when he first came to Washington after being elected to the Senate in 1998, it was a bit of a comedown after two terms as Indiana's governor.
His temporary offices for six months were in the basement of the Dirksen Senate Office Building, next to where the trash was left for collection.
One day, a group of CEOs from major Indiana companies was visiting him.
"One guy finally got up his courage and said, 'Evan, who did you piss off?' " Bayh said.
Edwards isn't the only potential 2008 presidential candidate Mellencamp is close to. The rocker also is friends with Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana. Mellencamp has performed at Bayh fundraisers and asked Bayh to introduce him at a Farm Aid concert.While the Senator did not get a seat on the Senate Finance Committee, he did get one relating to his caring of energy independence.
Bayh arranged for Mellencamp's wife to be a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention, where Mellencamp performed "Small Town" for the crowd.
Bayh demurred when asked recently whom he thought Mellencamp would back if both Bayh and Edwards run in 2008.
"That will be up to John," Bayh said. "He'll probably stay out of it, is my guess. He's a good guy."
One of Bayh's key topics on the exploratory presidential campaign trail is the need for the country to become less dependent on foreign energy sources.
Bayh will have a chance to work on that issue in the next Congress with his new seat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
For that assignment, he traded his old one on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
Bayh did not, however, get a long-sought seat on the Senate Finance Committee. Not only does the committee have the meaty jurisdictions of health care, international trade, Social Security and taxes, it's also a good magnet for campaign contributions from businesses.