Saturday, February 6, 2010

Who’s more confused?

As much as people want to focus on the political fight for lieutenant governor on the Democratic side, we can’t forget that the Republican Party in this state has his own potential messes in terms of their newly-elected slate of candidates for the November general election.

If it reads like I think the GOP may have its own problems to cope with come Election Day, you’d be correct.

AS OF RIGHT now, I don’t know who I’d consider to be the front-runner for any campaign – even though I have heard the partisan political rhetoric coming from both sides about how they think their side is the favorite.

I look at the Republican primary and see the squabble now taking place all too similar to what happened to the Democrats back in 1998. That was the year that several candidates from Chicago proper were defeated in the primary because the congressman from Southern Illinois – Glenn Poshard – was able to dominate in the parts of Illinois outside of Chicago.

It sounds a lot like what happened this year with the Republicans, where the state senator from Bloomington was the only candidate in the seven-person field who came from outside the Chicago-area.

Bill Brady (who I must admit I get a bit of a kick out of the idea that he comes from my alma mater, Illinois Wesleyan University - although he graduated from there just a few months before I was an incoming freshman) was the preference of many Republican voters outside of Chicago who like the idea of a state chief executive without political ties to the Second City.

THAT IS WHAT helped him get that 20 percent of the vote that is 400-some votes more than the 20 percent total for state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, who was the reverse image of Brady – he was the preference of the Chicago suburbs voters, although the other Chicago-area candidates were able to pick away at that same voter base to the point where Brady creeped out into the lead.

There have been “Unity Breakfast” events and some attempts in recent days at the rhetoric that implies everybody is kissing and making up. But I can recall the same rhetoric from the ’98 Dems in the days following the primary election.

The bottom line is that many Chicago Democrats that year never got over the fact that they were being asked to vote for someone whose life perspective was so radically different from theirs. His margin of victory in Chicago in the general election that year was pathetic for a Democratic candidate, and he lost in the suburbs by a wide margin.

Downstate Illinois alone wasn’t enough to win an election for Glenn Poshard (now president of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, near his home in Carterville).

ARE THE REPUBLICAN partisans of this year’s election cycle going to find out the same thing? While I realize that Republican-leaning central Illinois can provide more of a voter base than Democrat-leaning Southern Illinois did for Poshard in ’98, there is the strong possibility that Democrats won’t have that much trouble winning the gubernatorial election come November.

As of Friday, Dillard was refusing to accept defeat. While I understand the need to count all the votes when it comes to an election this close, there also is a time to move on with life. Dillard, who is the type of Republican I personally could consider voting for, has to accept the need to move on with his life.

The longer he keeps this up, the harder it will be for GOPers to unite, and the more likely that ’10 is the year that Illinois gets to see the political reincarnation of the ’98 Dems.

Of course, I’m keeping in mind the fact that the Republican opposition to Poshard in ’98 was a fully-funded campaign for George Ryan, much stronger than the ’10 campaign that will be backing Pat Quinn. Ryan that year was a solid lock to beat up on just about anybody he would have faced.

QUINN HAS THE uncertainty over who will be his running mate, although this state has had so many past instances where a governor could not stand the person he got saddled with for lieutenant governor (most recently, Rod Blagojevich despised Quinn and froze him out) that I don’t think the issue matters much to voters.

Scott Lee Cohen may well have won that primary (although with only 26 percent of the vote, it is not a strong support). But the people who are bitter about his defeat of four legislators and an electrician seem to want to find some way to replace him.

While I find some of the things that have come out about Cohen to be tacky behavior (although not necessarily secret, details were known – if not fully paid attention to), what I find offensive is the notion that people who are upset with an election’s outcome think they can bully the winner into backing away.

It just sounds so un-American. Would these same people be arguing just as vehemously if state Sen. Rickey Hendon, D-Chicago, and his outspoken mouth had won the primary? For all I know, they might.

PERSONALLY, I WON’T blame Cohen in the least if he decides to fight for his right to remain on the Democratic ticket. I realize that kind of chaos would hurt the Dems if it stretched throughout the next nine months until Election Day.

But I can also see the inexperienced lieutenant governor nominee who will face Cohen in the general election suffering from some of the same candidate flaws (both politically inexperienced who think their business experience is superior when it comes to running government) who only got the nomination because they were able to buy more television attention than their better-qualified opponents.

And on a final note, I have to admit I got my kick out of the Chicago Sun-Times’ cartoonist, Jack Higgins, whose editorial cartoon Friday showed two boxers knocked out in the ring, with the referee counting out the “Republican boxer” complaining that his count-down was being drowned out by the “Democratic boxer’s” count-down.


No comments: