Thursday, January 31, 2013

One more month for the “War of the Women” in Ill. 2nd Congressional

The political fight to replace Jesse Jackson, Jr., in Congress has really turned into a battle of women wishing to move up to the political world of Washington – although in one case it really is a desire for a political comeback.
HUTCHINSON: Big backing?

State Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields? Former state Rep. (and Cook County official) Robin Kelly of Matteson? Or former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson of Crete?

NOTE THE KEY to their backgrounds is that they’re all suburban-based – which is really what the bulk of this particular congressional district is about. The fact that it was represented by a Chicago resident like Jackson for so long is the real anomaly.

Now I know some people who are following this particular campaign are going to complain that I’m missing the point in reducing the race down to these three candidates.

There will be 17 people to pick from for those people who show up at a polling place for the Feb. 26 Democratic primary special election (with another five people to pick from for those individuals who persist in using a Republican primary ballot).

And yes, there are some men who are worth taking seriously, on a certain level.

YET THE BIG surprise of this particular election cycle is that none of those men have done much to put themselves forward.

Personally, I thought state Sen. Napoleon Harris, D-Flossmoor, would have been more of a factor, in part because he has an ego and because he is the professional athlete (he played football with Oakland, Minnesota and Kansas City) with business interests who is capable of self-financing a campaign.
KELLY: She needs a political post

He could easily have forced his face into our political awareness, thereby giving himself name recognition. But he hasn’t. His silence (although some might consider it political good taste) has kept him from being a factor, and it wasn't the world's largest surprise when he dropped out on Wednesday to back Kelly.

Then, there’s 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale – whose campaigning has tried to make much of the fact that he’s the only candidate of significance who comes from Chicago.

AS THOUGH HE wants the Chicago portion of the Illinois Second Congressional district to turn out in such force that it overwhelms the rest of the district – which stretches from the Hyde Park neighborhood south to the Kankakee/Iroquois county line.

Just two problems. One is that the district’s population, at best, is 25 percent Chicago-based. It is true that the just over half of the district that is suburban Cook County based is more likely to be aligned with Chicago than rural Will or Kankakee counties.

But there’s a good chance that Beale – if he survives the ballot challenge now pending before the Illinois State Board of Elections – will be irrelevant outside of Chicago.

There’s also the fact that he gets bashed for his part of Chicago, which consists of the Roseland and Pullman neighborhoods; both of which are among the parts of the city that only locals bother to visit.

I KNOW ONE suburban official who openly says any political official from Roseland has no business representing anywhere else – on account of how much that neighborhood has declined.

And as for Mel Reynolds, I seriously doubt that former Congressman gets much more than the 1 percent of the vote that the bulk of the 17 candidates would consider a sign of overwhelming support.

Which is why we’re down to Halvorson, Hutchinson and Kelly – the latter of whom has some significant backing from Obama-type political people (although not the president himself).
HALVORSON: A comeback?

While Hutchinson managed to get the endorsement this week of Kelly’s former boss in Cook County, board President Toni Preckwinkle herself.

HUTCHINSON EVEN MANAGED to name six fellow state senators who support her, although that was likely in response to the fact that one-time congressional candidate Donne Trotter gave his support to Kelly – who is trying to turn this campaign into a single issue (firearms) one, but may find that she makes herself equally as irrelevant outside of her home base as the Beale campaign likely will be.

There also are people who are more than willing to give their support to Halvorson – not so much for the angle that many want to believe (the only white candidate in a 17-person field) because they actually like the idea of a member of Congress who wouldn’t be the ultimate political freshman.

Although a part of me still thinks that her support would have to come from the very people who dumped her from Congress in 2010 – most of whom think they achieved something of significance with her electoral loss and aren’t about to send her back to Congress under any circumstances.


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