Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Simon to use Illinois state Senate for comeback, just as Oberweis did

I wonder if we should start thinking of James Oberweis and Sheila Simon as the “Comeback caucus.” Or maybe more accurately, the “Desperate to Stay in Electoral Politics” caucus.

SIMON: Wants a political comeback
That was my initial reaction to learning that one-time Carbondale alderman and former Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon has plans to run for election to a state legislative district from Southern Illinois.

SIMON, OF COURSE, is the daughter of the legendary senator – and former lieutenant governor himself – from Illinois, Paul Simon (but not the one who sang “Slip Slidin’ Away").

She was the lieutenant governor under Pat Quinn who chose in last year’s election cycle to run for state comptroller – a sign of a lack of faith in his ability to win re-election. Of course, he wound up not winning – so perhaps she was on to something.

Anyway, the woman now working at Southern Illinois University Law School (she has to eat) wants to be an elected official again.

Hence, her statement that the Associated Press reports says she will seek the state Senate seat currently held by David Luechtefeld – who has been in the state Senate for two decades, but has said he does not plan to seek re-election come the 2016 election cycle.

AS TO WHETHER Simon can win, we’ll have to see. For next year’s election cycle has the potential to be a big year in Illinois for Democrats. What with it likely that whomever the Dems nominate for president will be preferable to the GOP dreamer who manages to overcome Donald Trump’s money.

OBERWEIS: Used the same route
And the fact that Dems angered by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s anti-labor actions will be motivated to turn out to vote in ways they didn’t feel compelled to when their top pick was Pat Quinn.

Going against Simon is that the same Southern Illinois voters who overlooked Paul Simon’s Democratic Party leanings to keep re-electing him to Congress haven’t felt the same toward his daughter. She is a loser for a Carbondale mayoral bid, and also her comptroller post.

There are those who would just as soon see her wither away and never run for public office again!

SHEILA IS NOT compelled to do that. She’s choosing to use the state Senate (which isn’t anywhere near as prominent as the U.S. Senate, even though she’d be able to run around calling herself “senator”) for a comeback. Getting her back into office, from where she can plot a future run for a higher office.
LUECHTEFELD: Will retirement boost Sheila?
Which seems to be the same strategy as James Oberweis. Although in all fairness, he differs in that he was a political nobody before winning a state Senate term in the 2012 elections.

Oberweis was the guy who had run for seats in Congress, the U.S. Senate and Illinois governor – banking on his personal wealth to take him over the top.

But the only post that he has ever been able to win is that state Senate seat from the Fox Valley region of the far west suburbs. He was willing to give up that seat in last year’s elections for a Washington-based post from Illinois, but once again failed.

IT WOULD SEEM that Oberweis, a financier and chairman of the Oberweis Dairy family business, has found his niche in the political scene. He’s a “senator,” although not the kind he’d like to be. Instead of hanging around Capitol Hill, he’s at the Statehouse checking out the statue of Abraham Lincoln and fantasizing that he’s at the same level once occupied by Barack Obama.

SIMON: Will Paul help daughter at all?
Of course, Obama rose up the ranks rather quickly to the post that every political person fantasizes about having (and which few Illinoisans will ever be capable of achieving).

So if Sheila Simon is capable of winning that seat in the state Senate, she could wind up being the Democratic equivalent to Republican Oberweis.

Walking around the halls under the Statehouse rotunda and being a part of a somewhat-exclusive “club,” while wishing they were a part of something bigger that they may never achieve.


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