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Indiana Senate

Filing Deadline: Feb. 20
Primary: May 5

Nov. 4, 1998 — Former Democratic governor Evan Bayh won his father's Senate seat, defeating Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke. Bayh won 63 percent and Helmke won 35 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

Debates: Helmke and Bayh, both moderates, met for two debates on Oct. 2 and Oct. 5, two of the 1998 campaign's more civil exchanges. They disagreed on tax cuts and the best way to shore up Social Security, but both candidates' main task was distinguishing themselves in a way that would make voters notice.

Issues: Bayh's campaign literature and commercials portrayed him as a fiscal conservative, but didn't mention that he was a Democrat. Helmke blasted the "fiscal conservative" label, saying Bayh raised taxes and failed to use the state's record budget surplus he bragged about to improve infrastructure, protect the environment – or fund a tax cut. Bayh said that as governor he supported raising tobacco taxes and hiking hospital revenue to help pay for state Medicaid costs, but state Senate Republicans killed both plans.

Advertising: "Hoosier values" were the campaign's other star issue. As expected, Helmke made political hay out of Bayh's friendly relationship with President Clinton, airing TV ads in October that showed Bayh praising Clinton as the "man with the values to lead America into the 21st century." Bayh cried foul over the spots, which also talked about the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and called Helmke a hypocrite for saying he was "honored to know this president" at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in January. Bayh spent heavily on feel-good ads touting his record throughout the campaign.

Polls: A poll conducted in late October by Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research showed Bayh widening his lead to 58 percent over Helmke's 33 percent. Another Mason-Dixon survey conducted in early October showed Bayh with 54 percent and Helmke with 36 percent. Both polls showed around 10 percent of respondents undecided.

Fund-Raising: According to Federal Election Commission reports, Bayh raised more than $5.4 million for this race, spent more than $2.8 million and had $2.5 million in cash on hand in mid-October. Helmke raised about $580,000, spent about $500,000 and had nearly $80,000 left in cash on hand. PACs gave Bayh almost $960,000.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee made an example of Helmke's bid in a late October fund-raising letter to Indiana Republicans. NRSC chairman Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) cited the race as a reason the committee needed emergency funds. Although Helmke's spokesman denied it, the committee gave Helmke $17,500 during this race. Over the summer, the NRSC had considered spending close to $285,000 to help him out.

— Lisa Todorovich,

Lisa Todorovich can be reached at

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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