Indiana Democrats stunned by Sen. Evan Bayh's decision not to seek a third term face the daunting task of finding a candidate for the November ballot to fill the shoes of the man who's long been the Republican-leaning state's most popular Democrat.
"There's no obvious replacement for him. Nobody immediately comes to mind because he's been such a towering presence," said Robert Dion, a professor of American politics at the University of Evansville.
Indiana's Republican leanings have long made the state tough ground for Democrats. Hoosiers had gone 44 years without choosing a Democrat for president before Barack Obama narrowly won the state in 2008.
And until Bayh entered politics in the 1980s, Republicans had long ruled the Statehouse.
Indiana remains a "very small-town rural kind of state" whose residents don't like new government programs, spending and taxes, said William Kubik, a professor of political science at Hanover College.
That climate poses a challenge to Democrats running for statewide office — with many having a conservative streak.
Normally, you don't see the term "sex symbol" and "Republican" in the same sentence.
Most people had a good laugh when the party of the elephant tried to pass off Sarah Palin as sexy.
The Wasilla wonder is many things: Sexy ain't one of them.
But election of former nude Cosmo model Scott Brown as the new Senator from Massachusetts has given Republicans a hunk they can call their own and Saturday Night Live cemented Brown's status as the new GOP sex symbol with a skit this past weekend that depicted Democrats having fantasies of Brown that had little to do with legislation and a lot to do with imagination.