Wednesday, November 3, 2010

EXTRA: If Tuesday was a political Tsunami, then Illinois only slightly moist

Tuesday's elections were described by Illinois' new U.S. senator as a, "Tsunami hit(ting) the heartland." Partisan ideologues want to write a story about a conservative tidal wave washing away those supporters of an Obama presidency two years ago – as a rehearsal of sorts for the day in 2012 when they get rid of Barack himself.

KIRK: Our new senator
I’m not going to dispute the fact that Republican political operatives made gains (although they may find many of these Tea Party types irrational enough that they will soon wish the newly-elected officials would just go away).

YET I CAN’T see this as another “1994,” in large part because I can see the ways in which Democratic political operatives managed to make some gains, particularly in my home state of Illinois.

Yes, Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., now is Sen.-elect Mark Kirk, R-Ill., helping to reduce the amount of support that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., can count on. But I’d argue the fact that Kirk isn’t a blatant ideologue of the type that achieved victory in places such as Kentucky is the reason why he won in Illinois.

It was impossible for the Chicago Democratic political operatives to lambast him as some sort of nut-case ideologue in the same way they went after GOP gubernatorial nominee William Brady. If anyone wants a reason why Kirk won by about 80,000 votes while Gov. Pat Quinn precariously held onto a roughly 11,000-vote lead over Brady with about 2 percent of precincts remaining to be counted, that is why.

It’s not that much bigger than the 1982 Illinois gubernatorial campaign, when James R. Thompson defeated Adlai E. Stevenson III by 5,074 votes among 3.6 million ballots cast. Rural Illinois most definitely did NOT overwhelm the urban area to impose their guy for governor.

QUINN: Still our governor?
THOSE PEOPLE WHO voted in large numbers along the north lakefront neighborhoods (their turnout was particularly strong) were probably most eagerly motivated by the chance to vote against Brady and other conservative ideologues.

Now I know there are certain other elections across the country that can be seen as victories for common sense. Reid managed to defeat Tea Party type Sharron Angle in Nevada, while California gave victories to both Sen. Barbara Boxer and gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown.

And the people of Delaware kept that crazy witch out of the U.S. Senate.

But Illinois, in my mind, has reasserted its position as a “blue” state – no matter how much some people are going to want to dwell on Kirk.

IF QUINN DOES manage to keep his lead (don’t forget that even after all the precincts are counted, there still are absentee ballots and those military personnel voting from overseas), it would mean a situation where the most prominent Republican in Illinois government would be state Comptroller-elect Judy Baar Topinka (although I’m sure the ideologues are going to want to think of state Treasurer-elect Dan Rutherford as the more significant of the two).

Even if William Brady makes a last-second come-from-behind and winds up winning, he’s going to find himself being held in check by the Illinois General Assembly – which despite the best GOP efforts seems to remain in control of Democratic majorities.

Yes, we still have Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, which is a concept that I’m sure offends the conservative ideologues even more than the idea of “Gov. Pat Quinn” for four more years.

There also is the fact that the political effort to try to knock out an Illinois Supreme Court justice in hopes that they could swing the partisan split of the state’s high court in favor of the Republican Party failed. Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride got 66 percent of people voting to retain him (he needed 60 percent).

I’D LIKE TO think it is because Illinois had enough sense to reject the blatant politicking of business-oriented groups that are upset the high court isn’t rigged in their favor, and occasionally issues rulings against them just like everybody else in our society.

So much for the Republican partisan dream of a Republican governor and a Republican-influenced General Assembly preparing legislative and Congressional boundaries for the upcoming decade to favor themselves, with a partisan Supreme Court prepared to rubber-stamp it.

So while Brady, in letting his supporters early Wednesday know he had no intention of conceding defeat any  time soon, made a point of mentioning all the Congressional districts on the fringe of the Chicago area that swung to the GOP, I can’t help but look at state government proper.

In what could have been a ridiculous year that would have given us a repeat of 1995 (a year that will always live in infamy in my mind because of the conservative partisanship that overtook everything in the General Assembly), we seem to have achieved something more sensible.

TOPINKA: She's back!!!!!!!!
AT THE VERY least, it will be fun to have Topinka and her accordion back on the local political scene, even though I think it a shame that state Rep. David Miller, D-Lynwood, is now a former government official. I’d like to think he’ll recover politically (although because he lives in the suburbs, he can’t be in the mix for Chicago mayor).

I’d also like to think that Sen.-elect Kirk was sincere in his victory speech when he said, “the polls are closed, and now the time of partisanship is over.”


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