05/10/1999 at 01:00 AM EDT
"Hey, look him over," went the jingle that helped elect Indiana Democrat Birch Bayh to the U.S. Senate back in 1962. "He's your kind of guy." But when his son Evan, 43, ran for Dad's old seat last fall, the glances came without any prompting. "He's beautiful!" declares Gert McConahay, who worked in Bayh's press office when he was governor of Indiana. "I'd put him up there with Harrison Ford. I think he compares with John F. Kennedy Jr., though Evan has a little warmer smile."
Bayh, a lawyer and the father of 3-year-old twins Beau and Nicholas, pleads ignorance to his appeal. "Vanity is not part of his nature," says longtime friend Tom Koutsoumpas, a Washington, D.C., public affairs executive. Nor is he one to fuss over fashion. "He's your normal guy," says Susan, 39, his wife of 14 years and a part-time State Department attorney. "Am I neat? Am I clean? Do I match?"
But while Bayh insists he possesses no sage advice for looking great ("Ha! You've come to the wrong place for that!"), he doesn't take his appearance completely for granted. The 6'1" Shirkieville, Ind., native plays tennis, golf and basketball, runs five miles six or seven days a week and often takes part in Indianapolis's annual half marathon. "I'm not happy unless I get some exercise every day," he says. "I try to schedule it in. I find I think more clearly, handle stress better and just feel better."
The workouts bring other perks. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana recalls watching Bayh chow down on beignets, crawfish étouffé and shrimp gumbo at a recent New Orleans event and "thinking, How does a guy maintain such a fit physique eating like that? Several minutes later he unintentionally revealed his secret. He asked, 'Mary, can you recommend a good place for me to run tomorrow?' "