ABC News' Devin Dwyer reports:
Indiana Democrats already have one potential challenger – Rep. Brad Ellsworth – in the race for Sen. Evan Bayh’s soon-to-be-vacant seat. But that hasn’t silenced a growing grassroots effort calling on rock star John Mellencamp to join the fray.
The movement to “Draft John Mellencamp for Senate!” has exploded on Facebook and Twitter in the days since Bayh’s resignation.
“I like the sound of Senator Mellencamp,” one tweet reads. (Or should that be Senator Cougar Mellencamp?)
The Seymour, Ind., native certainly has the star-power and home-state connections to make a serious bid. The question is will voters – other than Jack & Diane – endorse the singer.
John Patterson, 57, a former Kansas Democratic congressional campaign advisor and Mellencamp fan, created the Facebook group to gauge support for the idea in the hours after Bayh’s news, and since then it has gone viral.
“Right away, people took it and ran,” Patterson said of the group, which now has more than 3,600 supporters. “As long as we don’t get any Shermanistic ‘I’m not going to serve if elected’ from Mellencamp, we’re gonna roll with it.”
Several voices in the mainstream media have joined the chorus. Chicago Sun Times film critic Roger Ebert tweeted Monday, “John Mellencamp (D-Ind.) has a nice ring to it.”
Katrina Van Heuvel, editor of The Nation, told MSNBC Tuesday that Mellencamp could be a “populist candidate” and “a Heartland son of Indiana.”
Mellencamp has not publicly commented on the idea, but a statement by his agent Bob Merlis appears not to rule it out.
“He has no reaction/comment to offer at this time but, yes, he's aware of these efforts,” Merlis told ABC News by e-mail.
Mellencamp — whose songs “Our Country,” “Small Town,” and “Pink House” have become popular anthems celebrating working-class America – is a well-known liberal activist and co-founder of the nonprofit group Farm Aid, which raises money to support Midwest family farmers.
His lyrics – “Aint that America? For you and me..Aint that America, home of the free…” — muse on themes of farm life, economic hard times, and civil rights
Mellencamp, who most recently performed at the White House’s “Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement,” is currently collaborating with Stephen King on a play called Ghost Brothers of Darkland County and has a new album that will be released later this year. Merlis said Mellencamp is still planning to tour this summer and next fall.
If he decides to join the race, Mellencamp would have to win the favor of the Indiana Democratic committee which will select the state's nominee for the November ballot following the May 4th primary.
No Democratic candidate will appear on the primary ballot because Bayh's announcement that he would not seek reelection came the day before the deadline for petitions to place nominees on the statewide ballot.