Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How likely are we to see a Madigan/Harold political brawl in '18?

How likely are we to see ...
There once was a time when political observers took seriously the possibility that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan would make a credible attempt to run for governor.

But the presence of her father, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, creates so many potential headaches that Lisa has had to postpone her own political ambitions – to the point where 2018 likely will be her effort to seek re-election to a fifth term as the head attorney for state government.
... this political matchup on Nov. 6, 2018?

NOW, FROM THE land of academia (and crummy Big Ten football teams) known as Champaign-Urbana comes the potential for the most visible Republican challenger Lisa Madigan has ever had (does anyone really remember Steven Kim or Paul Schimpf?).

Reports starting with WCIA-TV in Champaign and spreading elsewhere indicate that local attorney Erika Harold is being contemplated for the GOP nomination for the post.

For those of you whose memories are faulty, Harold is a young woman who twice has tried running for Congress from her central Illinois district – only to lose both primaries.

Although the line that will get Harold national attention, and is the bit that Republican operatives are hoping gives her a chance to actually win against Madigan, is that back in 2003, she was Miss America.

AS IN A former Miss Illinois who bumped up to win the big prize of what officially is a scholarship pageant (and which enabled Harold herself to complete her Harvard Law School education) and spend the year wearing a tiara and making public appearances while looking glamorous at every opportunity.

For what it’s worth, she now practices law out of an office in Champaign (she probably realizes she’d be totally irrelevant if she tried moving to Chicago and becoming a part of the political scene here).

She has political ambitions. But she’s never been able to succeed. She can’t even win Republican primaries – although part of that may well be that the kind of people who vote in Republican primaries are just the type who would have a hang-up over another defining Harold characteristic.

Sexist to publish this old Harold image?
She is a light-skinned black woman. Which ought to be completely irrelevant. But in today’s Age of Trump, a political climate where people who have racial hang-ups are given a certain sense of credibility, it does.

THE TRICK WILL be to see if Harold can get a free ride through the Republican primary process in order to gain the party nomination and a chance to run against Madigan.

In which case, I’m sure Republican types will go overboard with talk about how Lisa’s time has passed (and probably never should have come about to begin with due to her father). We’ll probably also get an overdose of the glamour shots – perhaps to create the image of a more desirable woman in a political post?

And before anyone claims that’s a sexist image to create, I can’t help but notice that Harold herself uses a Facebook page to promote herself, and often digs up old photographs of herself from her Miss America days – such as the photos of herself she published just last week on Independence Day, signing autographs for soldiers at Fort Belvoir while wearing her tiara.
Recent images used on social media by Erika Harold ...

Of course, the fact that Harold has never won a thing politically means she has little else to run on other than this image that a segment of our society will find attractive – and another will find trivial.

IF ANYTHING, I find it sad that the Republican Party operatives have such a cynical view that they contemplate the need for Harold’s image – figuring that to beat a woman, they need to find one of their own. Nothing about a person’s actual qualifications for the post.

Which also is sad, because I don’t doubt that Harold has certain intellectual qualifications and probably could have been developed into a credible candidate for political office if she were treated seriously – rather than as eye candy for the electorate.
... and Lisa Madigan

Of course, as I already stated, the key will be whether Harold gets a free pass. Because if there’s some ambition type with a law degree who decides HE wants to run for Illinois attorney general, I don’t doubt that many Republican primary voters will prefer him to Harold. So we’ll have to see if a Madigan/Harold brawl ever occurs.

Although considering the anti-intellectual strain that runs through a segment of the GOP electorate these days, Harold may have to sacrifice her best credential of being a Harvard Law grad and emphasize her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois – crummy football teams and all!


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