Thursday, July 14, 2016

Is getting elected to office really nothing more than a quirk of fate?

The whimsical nature of the electorate can truly be stunning – particularly in the way that a political candidate’s fate gets determined by factors beyond their control.
KIRK: Is he done already?
They can do nothing wrong, except for failing to satisfy whatever attitude is trending with voters in any particular year

TAKE THE CANDIDACY of Illinois’ junior senator. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., already has the stink of death hovering over his candidacy even though it is nearly four full months until voters have their say.

The problem is that Kirk, who prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate served in Congress from the North Shore suburbs, isn’t as ideologically-motivated as many of those who are now the leaders of the Republican caucuses in Congress.

He’s not conservative enough to appease the mentality of those individuals who actually think Donald Trump’s whims are fit to be president.

Back in 2010, Kirk’s moderate nature was the key to his electoral victory over
Democrat Alexi Giannoulias – who I’m sure is kicking himself these days wishing he could have run against Kirk this year instead of six years ago.

BECAUSE NOW, WITH Kirk’s leanings likely to be the factor that takes him down (the ideologues are emboldened in a way they weren’t in 2010), Giannoulias could actually win without doing a thing differently than he did six years ago.
DUCKWORTH: Perfect timing?
Instead, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., of the northwest suburbs will be the beneficiary – she gets to be the challenger who can take on a Kirk who isn’t really any different now than what we, the people of Illinois, voted for in ’10.

We’re also getting another example of a matter of timing in our neighboring state of Indiana – where one-time Gov. and Sen. Evan Bayh has decided he wants to return to electoral politics in the form of a comeback in his old Senate seat.
GIANNOULIAS: Wishing he could try again?
That was the post he voluntarily gave up in 2010 because of the national trends that indicated it was going to be a Republican-leaning year; and the benefits of incumbency might not have been strong enough to ensure his re-election.

BUT NOW, WITH Trump managing to offend just enough Republicans with his attitudes (including saying that Kirk is a “loser” because he doesn’t react in knee-jerk motion with Donald himself), it has Bayh thinking that now is the perfect time to return himself to office.
BAYH: A comeback?

Particularly since he’d be able to attach himself to the image of Barack Obama as president, and some people willing to vote for Democrats just because they want to vote to continue that legacy.

Speaking of Indiana, that state’s governor, John Pence, appears to be someone that Trump is taking seriously as a vice-presidential running mate. Would a governor be willing to give up his statewide post to be Donald Trump’s Number Two?
PENCE: Decisions, decisions!?!

Some think it possible because they want to believe Pence would face a tough re-election bid, and might find the prospect of being a vice presidential running mate more attractive than a losing governor. Although I wonder if Indiana is knee-jerk Republican enough to make Pence the favorite no matter who he manages to offend on the job.

BUT THE IDEA of timing one’s exit from a political post properly is not a new idea. Take Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who could easily have been the one-time Congressman from central Illinois who lost his seat 20 years ago.
DURBIN: Master of timing?

Durbin served seven terms as the Congressman from Springfield, winning narrowly for the final time in 1994. Which, of course, was the year that gave us all that “Contract with America” rhetoric and saw Newt Gingrich rise to prominence as Republicans across the nation did well.

One can argue that Durbin only won that year because opponent Bill Owens was a John Birch Society member who laid on the ideological talk a little too thick to be taken seriously. A more serious challenger could have beaten him, which motivated Durbin’s rise in 1996 to the Senate – making him a statewide official rather than a central Illinois Dem serving in a GOP-leaning district.

Hence, we still have Durbin all these years later – having served on Capitol Hill for more than a third of a century and living out the dream of just about every elected official. Which is to not humiliate themselves on an Election Day of the future!


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