Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Who’s the third Democratic gov candidate for Illinois '14 cycle?

It has been in the rumor mill for the past few days, and now WLS-TV is reporting it as well. State Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, is contemplating a run for Illinois governor in next year’s election cycle.

RAOUL: The next governor?
I suspect that the reaction from many people who happen to stumble across this commentary is something along the line of “Who?!?”

THEN AGAIN, I’M fairly sure that was the reaction of many people back in 2004 when then state-Sen. Barack Obama was first speculated as a possible presidential candidate.

Personally, I’m not sure that Raoul is the next Obama. Even though some people are quick to point out that both were from the Hyde Park neighborhood, have general progressive political credentials and are black men whose names don’t exactly comply with the ideals of those who see this as a WASP-y nation.

But aside from being a black man (which could make him the candidate who takes the bulk of the African-American segment of the vote), I’m not convinced he will get into this particular election. If anything, a Raoul campaign succeeding would overcome odds bigger than anything Obama managed to do.

Admittedly, the current candidate field almost begs for a third person to get involved.

WE HAVE CURRENT Gov. Pat Quinn seeking re-election, and former Commerce Secretary/White House chief of staff William Daley also seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.

QUINN: Front-runner? Or long-shot?
There are those people who can’t stand the idea of Quinn, and others who can’t stand the concept of a Daley having any political influence outside of Chicago.

Both men have potential drawbacks, and the right third candidate could manage to succeed – particularly since in a three-way race, you don’t need a majority to win. It could only take 36 percent.

Although I wonder if Raoul’s biggest drawback is a characteristic he has in common with both Quinn and Daley – he lives in Chicago.

DALEY: The BIG name
FOR I SUSPECT that the people who are most eager to not vote for either Daley or Quinn are those who live in the “other” third of Illinois – the part that isn’t Chicago, or its suburbs. The part known commonly by the epithet “downstate.”

Those people want a candidate from outside of the Chicago area, and probably one who isn’t going to have much more appeal to the African-American voter bloc than either Daley or Quinn – the latter of whom is most likely to take the black vote if it remains just the two candidates in the March primary.

The big problem, of course, is that there aren’t any downstate officials who are in a position to run a serious campaign for governor as a Democrat. I wonder if a Quinn vs. Daley vs. Raoul field would seriously depress the voter turnout in the Democratic primary outside of the Chicago metro area.

I suspect the bulk of the “rural” vote will wind up working its way to the Republican primary – although I’m not convinced that state Sen. William Brady, R-Bloomington, will be any more successful than he was three years ago when he ran for governor.

RUTHERFORD: The eventual challenger
SOME MAY THINK that he had his chance in 2010, and it’s time to find someone new. That may be the reaction to state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, as well. As for state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, he may be too obscure, while business executive Bruce Rauner may come off as “too Chicago” for that rural-type vote.

Raoul’s chances of becoming governor may center on the concept that the electorate finds ALL of the candidates so unbecoming that he stands out in a crowded field.

It could happen. Or maybe not!

For the senator from the Hyde Park neighborhood has shown himself to be a serious legislator who has more ambition in life than to be the next alderman of the 5th ward. It’s not always the highly-qualified person who manages to get themselves elected to office.


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