Wednesday, February 24, 2010

When is a candidate’s refusal to concede nothing more than a political hissy fit?

It isn’t loud or imposing, but it is shrill and demanding.

I am referring to those people across Illinois who are paying attention to the recent Republican primary for governor, where it appears that state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, has defeated state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, and several other candidates for the right to challenge Gov. Pat Quinn come Nov. 2.

FOR THOSE OF us who have already erased primary Election Night from their minds, both Brady and Dillard managed to get 20 percent of the vote. If this were a typical election, that kind of support would be reason for humiliation, ridicule and eternal shame.

But in a seven-candidate field of less-than-prominent names, it is enough to win. Both Dillard and Brady got the same percentage, but it seems that Brady’s “20 percent” was about 200-plus votes more than Dillard’s “20 percent.”

Dillard has said that if the final official count (which won’t determined until next week – Friday, March 5, to be exact) shows him within 100 votes, then he’d be willing to consider paying the millions of dollars for a court challenge that could result in a re-count, and a delay in the official naming of a winner.

As far as I’m concerned, I don’t think it makes any difference. If I were a part of the Brady campaign, I would have taken the same tactic that Quinn used earlier this month – he declared himself the primary election victor even before his primary opponent was willing to concede.

BRADY OUGHT TO just move forward. Even if by some miraculous occurance there was a change in vote tallies that flipped the election, I don’t think anyone would believe Brady acted irrationally.

But by the same token, I don’t blame Dillard for refusing to make the concession speech, which is an event that I always have considered to be so overrated.

The election is over when the votes are counted. It really doesn’t matter if Dillard ever makes a public statement admitting to that fact. In fact, so long as he doesn’t make bitter, shrill remarks of his own to attack Brady (and thus far, he has refused to say anything along those lines), I don’t think Republicans have any reason to gripe.

So long as Dillard, if he ultimately loses, withers away into the background and doesn’t do anything to attack his political party’s nominee (even though the Democratic Party partisan in me would get a kick out of seeing and hearing that), I don’t think GOP people have a right to complain.

WHAT MY THOUGHTS on this issue ultimately come down to is the fact that I have always realized that elections are never decided officially on Election Day – no matter how much the average person on the street thinks so.

I realize that most people don’t pay as much attention to the minutia of election law and campaign procedures as I do, but I have always thought it ridiculous that people believe the elections for public office are wrapped up all nice and neat just in time for the extended evening newscasts.

There may be some campaigns where the loser knew by 9 p.m. what was going to happen so that they could make a “concession” speech that got broadcast live by local television stations.

But there are elections that run so close that we really do have to wait until every single vote from absentee ballots and those citizens/registered voters living overseas and military personnel can be counted.

MARCH 5 IS the key date this year (and not just because it’s my brother’s birthday, and I’m still not sure what to get him for a gift). It is the date on which the State Board of Elections will certify all those local elections results that had to be completed by Tuesday. I would just as soon prefer that none of the candidates talk about concession.

Let Brady begin the process of trying to build political ties with suburban Chicago residents who by-and-large were not enthused by his campaigns for governor or U.S. senator (in 2006). Let Dillard ponder whether it is worth the hassle (and eternal political enemies he will make) if he seriously tries to extend this campaign process beyond next week by demanding a recount.

If anything, I am encouraged by the fact that we don’t have a loud outcry and that most people are not getting worked up.

I’m realistic enough to know that is because of all the major political offices (president, Chicago mayor, U.S. senator and Illinois governor), governor is the one that the typical Chicago-area voter cares the least about.

BUT FOR A few moments, I’m going to delude myself into thinking it is because we learned the lesson of 2000 and close elections and recounts. Maybe we realize now how absurdly some of us behaved, and how we might have been better off if we could have just had a recount that would have settled the issue once and for all – instead of leaving us with eternal questions about what the “real” vote tallies were and the perception that the Supreme Court of the United States behaved in a partisan manner by ending the matter when it did.

In short, the one thing I am thankful for is that we in Illinois are not creating a local political encore to the electoral nonsense of the presidential elections of 10 years ago. That would be more embarrassing than anything done by Rod Blagojevich or any other official engaged in alleged political corruption.


No comments: