Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kirk doesn’t want his picture taken with Sarah Palin, will that hurt him Nov. 2?

Every time conditions arise that make people think the political campaign of Alexi Giannoulias is dead and the rotting corpse ought to be buried immediately, something happens that ought to remind us that his Republican opponent has his own problems to address.

So on the same day that President Barack Obama used an appearance in Quincy, Ill., to give the Giannoulias name a positive plug, we get news reports informing us that Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., will not be seen next month with Sarah Palin – the one-time Alaska governor whose political presence is goddess-like among a faction of the electorate that Kirk could use come Nov. 2.

PALIN WILL BE in suburban Rosemont on May 12 for a fundraiser being held by the Illinois Republican Party – a political entity whose top priority these days is trying to win the election for a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois.

Kirk being the GOP nominee for that position, one would think his presence would be mandatory. After all, some of that cash being raised is bound to go towards advertising and other projects meant to promote his image as being Senate-like.

But the Chicago Tribune this week reported that Kirk isn’t going to Rosemont on that date. Instead, he’s staying in Washington, where he will be “aw shucks”-ing it into having us believe that he’s just the member of Congress from the North Shore suburbs, representing the interests of his constituents instead of commingling with the GOP’s latest Country/Western Star (if Dem bigwigs are Rock Stars, what does that make the Republican celebs?).

On the day that his political party is trying to have one of its biggest days in terms of bolstering their image and trying to create an aura of inevitability that Republicans will win big on Election Day, Kirk will be nothing more than a member of the minority political party in Washington.

WHO’S TO SAY that Congress will do anything of significance that day? A chance to latch onto the Palin persona (which he was so eager to do back during the primary election cycle) would seem on a superficial level to be mandatory.

Of course, if one thinks a little deeper about this situation, it becomes obvious why Kirk would want nothing to do with the political persona of Palin that even manages to offend some Republican partisans. Getting too close to Palin puts Kirk in a position to offend voters.

That is something he cannot afford to do. He has to keep all of the “offended” people in the Giannoulias camp, thereby ensuring they see him as the rational alternative. The last thing he really needs to do in his desire to portray himself as the politically moderate alternative who can appeal to everybody is to get too tied to the hard-core partisans of his own political party.

Yet Kirk has the same problem as many other officials. Those hard-cores are the ones who are most behind the constant polls that have many people believing that 2010 is destined to be an excellent election cycle for officials of the Republican persuasion.

A GALLUP ORGANIZATION poll released Wednesday that had 46 percent of those surveyed saying they would vote for a Republican to represent them in Congress (compared to 45 percent saying they want a Democrat) found that the people most “enthusiastic” were the Republican-leaners.

That poll had 57 percent of those “very enthusiastic” about voting this year saying they want the GOP, while only 37 percent want a Dem. That is what overcomes the fact that people who are “somewhat enthusiastic” or “not enthusiastic” about voting actually prefer Democrats in Congress.

We’re talking about the ideologues who are driving this issue – the people who in 2008 were ABO, and whose sense of wanting Anybody But Obama has only intensified during the past year.

Let’s be honest. Many of these people are among Palin’s biggest backers.

WHICH MEANS I wonder how many of them are going to see Kirk’s presence in Washington on the day that Goddess Sarah comes to his home county as some sort of a sign of disrespect. Will it stir up resentment from people, and start them in ticking off the list of issues (gun control, abortion, etc.) where they think he is just “too urban/liberal/freaky/whatever term they prefer” to truly represent the Illinois they want to create?

Some people might respond to me by saying that I’m sniffing some tainted drugs from the Giannoulias campaign’s personal stash. There is a sense that such logic is wishful thinking on the part of the Alexi camp.

But there is also truth to the idea that the Kirk campaign is going to be an intense walk along a balance beam, with conservative razor wire underneath ready to slash him to pieces if he slips up and falls.

Is the act of stiffing Sarah in Rosemont going to hurt him, or help?


EDITOR’S NOTES: It looks like Mark Kirk won’t be among the people writing out a $25,000 check payable to the order of the Illinois Republican Party so he can have his picture taken with Sarah Palin.

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