Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Will Election ’16 give us the “Battle of the War Stories” for U.S. Senate?

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., wants another term in the U.S. Senate. Whether he’s vulnerable to electoral defeat remains to be seen.

Yes, I’ll admit it is scary to be discussing this campaign now – considering there’s a year-and-10-months remaining until the November 2016 elections that will decide whether Republicans can keep the U.S. Senate seat that has flopped back and forth between the major political parties in recent years.

FROM CAROL MOSELEY Braun to Peter Fitzgerald to Barack Obama (with a combination of Roland Burris and Kirk completing the Obama term when he became president); is this seat bound to flop back to Dems?

The Hill, a Washington, D.C.-based newspaper that focuses on Congress, wants to believe so.

They put together a list of 10 senators they believe are most vulnerable to being defeated in the 2016 elections. Kirk is Numero Uno on that list.

Kirk, even when he was in the House of Representatives representing the North Shore suburbs, was not amongst the hard-core conservative ideologues, and that is a fact that has those people less-than-enthused about six more years for the suburban Highland Park resident in Washington.

ALTHOUGH ANYBODY WHO thinks that will result in Kirk making up for lost ideologue votes by getting support from some Democrats who can back his stances on environmental issues and gay marriage ought to think back to 2002.

That was when incumbent Gov. George Ryan had supposedly taken a series of stances on social issues that offended his alleged Republican ideologue allies.

But Democrats were so eager to elect “one of their own” that there was no talk of crossover political support. Which is how we got the concept of six years of Rod Blagojevich as governor!

I can easily see the Democratic party people, including the party hacks, all eager to show that any Republican electoral success back in November was a mere fluke, and that the presence of Bruce Rauner ought not to be regarded as any kind of trend in Illinois.

I DID NOTE that The Hill tapped four potential challengers to Kirk; including Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and representatives Tammy Duckworth, Cheri Bustos and Bill Foster.

I was thankful that they didn’t include the name “Pat Quinn” in their list – as some people are trying to believe that Quinn is concocting schemes to get himself elected to another political post following his gubernatorial defeat.

Particularly at his age (early 60s), Quinn has likely lost any momentum he ever had to win a statewide election. He’s back to the guy of the 1990s who ran unsuccessfully for Illinois secretary of state, lieutenant governor and the U.S. Senate – and whose electoral bids were treated as an excuse for laughter.

But I’m not writing off Kirk at this point – particularly because it’s so early in the electoral process that I feel appalled at myself for even contemplating this issue now. So much can change between now and November of 2016 that nobody’s going to remember that Kirk was ever considered vulnerable.

ALTHOUGH I HAVEN’T forgotten the fact that Kirk didn’t take a majority of the vote (only 48 percent) when he won in 2010. It was only the presence of Green and Libertarian party candidates on the ballot that kept Democratic challenger Alexi Giannoulias (remember him?) from prevailing.

Of the challengers, I find the idea of Duckworth to be the most intriguing. The woman has a significant record of military service that certainly would match up with the record Kirk claims (he served in the Naval Reserve for many years, and it was only the stroke he suffered in 2012 that ultimately caused him to retire his rank of Commander a year later).

Could it become the “War story” campaign of 2016 – with the two trying to show who was the bigger “war hero?” Which could make for some of the most outrageous rhetoric of Election ’16!


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