Monday, July 27, 2009

Democrat “youth movement” to counter likely Blagojevich rants from GOP?

It strikes me as humorous that Lisa Madigan could wind up being the “old girl” among the Democrats wishing to run for statewide office in the 2010 elections.

Madigan is 44, and part of the reason she has promising political prospects is because of her age – she’s young enough that she doesn’t have to push for something next year. She has time to run for higher office in future elections.

SO SHE CAN get away with running for another term as state attorney general.

But when one considers the chance that she could soon be outranked by officials who are only 41 and 33, I can’t help but wonder if Madigan risks becoming the “past” of the Democratic party without ever having been its “present.”

For one of the people who has decided he is going to seek the post that it is believed Madigan really wanted to run for (and may very well seek in some future election) is Dan Hynes.

The three-term Illinois comptroller has decided he doesn’t want that office anymore. He wants to be governor, and he is willing to do what Madigan did not – he is willing to challenge incumbent Pat Quinn in a primary election.

ON THE SURFACE, Hynes (the 41-year-old who won his first election to a statewide office when he was 30) has one significant advantage over Quinn – money.

While there is evidence that Quinn’s past problems with raising campaign contributions will not be quite so severe this time around (he has the benefit of incumbency for governor, so some people will give him money just to hedge their bets), Hynes is doing well when it comes to putting together a campaign fund.

Recent disclosure reports indicated Hynes had about $3.5 million on hand, compared to just over $700,000 for Quinn.

So Hynes has the chance to put together a professional campaign operation that could quash Quinn early on and make it difficult for the incumbent governor to compete with the family advantages Hynes has always held (his father is the former Cook County assessor and Illinois Senate president).

BUT I CAN’T help but remember 2004 when Hynes decided it was time for him to move up to be a U.S. senator. The early predictions by political pundits all figured Hynes had the advantages of family that would help him get the money necessary to run a competitive campaign.

It didn’t happen.

That was the primary where business executive Blair Hull wanted to become a politician and thought he could spend his own money to do so. For awhile, it looked like it would work – until we heard the allegations about the way in which Hull treated his ex-wife (look it up, if you want to know what he actually did to her).

Hynes turned out to be such a lackluster campaigner (in part because of his youthful age) that he was unable to take advantage of the Hull collapse. Hence, it wound up being fringe candidate Barack Obama who wound up winning that primary – beginning his trek to national fame and the White House four years later.

HAS AGE AND maturity taught Hynes anything that he can get his act together for what will be an ugly primary against Quinn (who isn’t just going to lie back and surrender)? We will have to see in coming months.

That is not quite the case for Alexi Giannoulias. He is only 33, but has decided that one term as Illinois treasurer is enough. He wants to be the U.S. senator from Illinois.

Even though Obama has made it clear he does not plan to actively campaign for anyone running in Illinois next year, Giannoulias is betting on the fact that he can claim to be Obama’s basketball buddy (when both were at the University of Chicago). He wants the Obama aura to rub off on him and take him to the upper chamber of Capitol Hill.

He’s already going so far as to denounce possible Republican opponent Mark Kirk as being part of the “old guard” of Washington politics. Heck, Kirk, the Congressman from the North Shore suburbs, is only 49.

THERE ARE SOME who would think he is part of the younger generation that could offer change to politics, instead of being a GOP party hack.

But I can’t help but wonder if this is the strategy for the Democrats, who know that every single Republican running anywhere in Illinois is going to keep bringing up the name “Blagojevich” every single chance they get.

Guilt by association. Hope that the mood of the state against Milorod remains so negative that people will vote for anyone BUT a Democrat when it comes time to cast a ballot in the general election to be held next November.

But if the Democrats come up with a ticket of kids so youthful that they can’t claim much of a tie to Blagojevich (in short, if Lisa Madigan literally becomes the Grande Old Dame of Democratic Party politics), it could be a strategy that could help neuter some of the nasty rhetoric we’re bound to hear next year.

AND BEFORE YOU start flooding my e-mail with messages telling me I’m forgetting about Jesse White, who at age 75 is running for re-election as Illinois secretary of state, I didn’t.

It’s just that White has taken on such a “nice guy” persona within Illinois government that he may be the one guy who doesn’t get burdened with much of the ridiculous political rhetoric that other Democrats will face.

After all, the man once played baseball in the Chicago Cubs organization. That has to be enough suffering and agony for any one human being.



Pain said...

Kirk has enough of his own problems [divorce, endorsement scandal] to make this a train wreck for both parties. Madigan is smart not to get into this mess just yet. Illinois is looking a lot like Louisiana in the 1930s.

Anonymous said...

Alexi and Barack were never at the University of Chicago together.

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