Coats addresses criticism over residency

Dan Coats

Kevin Rader/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - For the first time, Eyewitness News talked with former Senator Dan Coats about the possibility of taking on Evan Bayh in the November election and about the controversy over which state he calls home.

The most talked-about man in Indiana politics made his first official campaign stop in Indianapolis Wednesday. Dan Coats stopped in for lunch at Shapiro's to shake hands and get some lunch.

The former US senator and former ambassador to Germany has been the topic of Democratic scorn ever since he announced his intention to collect the 4,500 signatures needed to run for the Republican nomination for Senate.

"I think they are running scared," said Coats.

But clearly the video of Coats telling a North Carolina crowd that he was considering moving there has taken its toll. Now Coats says he owns a home on the near north side of Indianapolis and he plans to sell his home in North Carolina.

"We have made the decision that back home in Indiana sounds pretty good. Now let me explain the North Carolina thing," he said.

Coats said he made that statement to the North Carolina delegation at the GOP convention thinking about his in-laws who live in the Tar Heel state. He says it's much ado about nothing and the focus should be on improving the nation's economy

Beverly Heid asked Coats about it.

"It concerned me that he would make a comment like that. Virginia and North Carolina would be ahead of Indiana? He better watch his P's and Q's," she said.

Coats has also taken heat for his lobbying work which he says he will be able to disprove those allegations soon.

"They are singing the Democrats' tune and it is not factually correct," he said, referring to members of his own party who have been criticizing him.

Republican State Senator Marlin Stutzman is also seeking the GOP nomination.

"Us good folks in Indiana have questions about where you been what you been doing and who you've been relating with, with your relationship with lobbying firms," said Stutzman.

Another Hoosier threw his hat into the ring for Senator Bayh's Senate seat Wednesday. Bob Thomas, an Indianapolis and Fort Wayne Ford dealer, says he thinks it's important Indiana is represented by someone who lives in Indiana.

But for right now the leading contender on the Republican side is Dan Coats. Hoosiers do have questions.

"Don't be a career politician," he said. But that allowed Bayh to run without opposition."We are going to fix that this time," he responded.

Now Coats will find out if Hoosiers like his answers.

Coats says he will be keeping his townhouse in Virginia. He's hoping he will need it in January.