Tuesday, November 8, 2016

EXTRA: Illinois now the Land of Adlai just a few decades too late for him?

I’m old enough to recall when Illinois was capable of flipping to either political party in presidential elections, and when the label of “Land of Lincoln” was taken literally as our home state was the home of one of the Republican Party’s founders.
DUCKWORTH: Illinois' new senator

So yes, it feels a tad strange that on Tuesday, the voter tallies from our home state were so strong for the Democratic Party that it seemed over before it even began.

VERY QUICKLY AFTER the polls closed, voter projections declared that Hillary Clinton would take Illinois’ 20 Electoral College votes, and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., let it be known within a half hour that he would concede to Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth.

“Opponents can peacefully bury the hatchet,” Kirk said in admitting defeat. “What binds us is stronger than what divides us.”

Even Duckworth, herself, seemed to have some trouble realizing the reality, holding off for an hour or so before claiming victory. “We showed a campaign that respected the voters … can actually be respectful,” she said.

The reality of Illinois is that the population of the state is so overwhelmingly Chicago-area. Not Chicago proper, but Chicago metro.

ALMOST HALF OF the state’s population lives in a Chicago suburb. When combined with the roughly 2.7 million who live in the city proper, it means two-thirds of Illinois is Chicago-area.

I know people look at the Illinois map showing 102 counties who wonder how the six-county Chicago area can possibly be so dominant. But it is.

I don’t care just how much red you’re going to see on the Illinois maps indicating counties that preferred the concept of a “President Donald Trump,” it was in the wrong places in terms of generating large numbers of votes.
MENDOZA: Illinois' new comptroller?

Which is why it seems that all the other campaigns for political office were impacted to the point where it seems that Clinton coat-tails were what it was all about.

ALL THE PEOPLE who backed Hillary Clinton likely also cast their votes for Duckworth for Senate – in large part because they went along with the theory that Clinton will need to have political allies in Congress if she is to be able to accomplish anything.

The question will be to see if it has the same impact for Illinois comptroller – will enough people cast ballots for Chicago city clerk Susana Mendoza just because she has the “D” after her name? Will she hold the early lead she jumped out to in the first hour of votes being counted?

Or will current Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger be able to retain the post to which she was appointed two years ago by Gov. Bruce Rauner?

Will Rauner’s wealth (and that of his politically-allied friends) be able to help her buy two more years in the post, allowing her to finish the work of the late Judy Baar Topinka?

WILL IT ALSO be strong enough to make enough of a shift in the Democratic Party leanings of the Illinois General Assembly that have been able to thwart all of the anti-organized labor initiatives desired by Rauner.

Or will Rauner wind up feeling very lonely for the next two years of his gubernatorial term, surrounded by a slew of Democrats in the state Legislature and the constitutional offices who will be anxious to put him through as much political agony as they can before he seeks re-election come the 2018 election cycle?

Too early for Illinois?
Illinois certainly has changed a great deal from the days when our state’s favorite son presidential candidate Adlai E. Stevenson II (himself a former Illinois governor who later went on to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations) couldn’t even win the Electoral College votes from his home state in either of the two election cycles (1952 & ’56) in which he ran.

It makes me wonder if the spirit of Adlai E. is off in the heavens somewhere, chuckling along with the soul of Eleanor Roosevelt at the Election Day results of today – and thinking he had the misfortune of coming along politically some six decades too early.


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