Thursday, January 3, 2019

Freshman senator already declares candidacy for an Illinois top pol spot

I remember a time some two decades ago at the Statehouse in Springfield interviewing a legislator – Nancy Kaszak from Chicago’s Northwest Side.
STAVA-MURRAY: A freshman playing like powerhouse

What sticks in my mind about this interview was now unproductive it was. She wasn’t able to say much, ultimately explaining her ignorance on the issue by saying, “I’m a freshman” and that leadership hadn’t kept her fully appraised of this particular issue.

I COULDN’T HELP but think back to Kaszak when I heard this week about Anne Stava-Murray – a newly-elected Illinois House member from suburban Naperville. She hasn’t even taken office yet, but already has declared her political intentions for the 2020 election cycle.

She’s am ambitious sort, I’ll give her that. She’s going to run for the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois that will be open next year. That, of course, is the seat currently held (and has been since 1996) by Richard Durbin.

Of course, the presumption is that Durbin will be seeking re-election. If he were going to try moving to another political post, the obvious shift would be to try becoming Illinois’ governor.

DURBIN: Does he have credible opponent?
But that would have entailed him being willing to give up his current Senate seat in order to run in last year’s election cycle – instead of becoming one of J.B. Pritzker’s political supporters. He wasn’t willing to risk his seat – and it may well be he enjoys being one of the Senate’s elder statesmen, with hopes his name will someday be held in the same regard as Everett McKinley Dirksen, who served in D.C. from 1933 until his death in 1969.

THE LONG-AGO Republican from Pekin who became among the GOP elder statemen with a reputation for being willing to work in a bipartisan political manner. A legend, of sorts, in the halls of Capitol Hill.

Except to people like Stava-Murray, who claims that if Durbin were serious, he’d have already formally declared his candidacy. Although I suspect he already has the beginnings of a re-election bid up and running in a low-key manner.

MADIGAN: Her 'real' opponent?
She’s already setting her sights on Durbin, which will have one political benefit for her.

It will help her erase the stink of being just a freshman representative in the Illinois House – one that she was definitely going to face because she has openly talked of the need to dump long-time (a full half-century) Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, from his political post.

SHE WAS IN full agreement with those Republican ideologues who tried running campaigns last year on the grounds that we need to “Dump Madigan!” and she publicly refused to take the aid that Madigan usually provides to Democrats to support his own Illinois House majority.

It’s not likely she’d have a lengthy future as a representative, since I don’t doubt the Madigan operation is already seeking someone more politically sympathetic to “Mr. Speaker” to challenge Stava-Murray come 2020.
DIRKSEN: Most definitely of the past

But by doing this, she’ll shift the story from her being a renegade legislator to her being one of Illinois’ top politicos (along with Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Gov.-elect Pritzker and whichever of the assorted characters manages to win the mayoral elections to be held next month and in April).

I don’t doubt that Democratic operatives will go out of their way to undermine Stava-Murray and try to ensure she returns to being a political nobody after next year.

BUT I HAVE to wonder what goes through her mindset – if she really thinks she’s the beneficiary of a revolutionary “movement” against Madigan, instead of someone who won because of the intense level of contempt many of us feel for Donald Trump!
TRUMP: His critics led Stava-Murray to win

To me, the explanation is that she’s from Naperville – which once was a part of the great DuPage County Republican organization that was among the strengths of the GOP nationwide.

There once would have been a time when Stava-Murray would have been a Republican aspirant for political office – except that the Republicans have gone so far overboard to become the political party of rural America that I suspect if she had tried to run in the Republican primary last year, she’d have lost. They wouldn't want her. She's a Democrat by default!

It may well be that Stava-Murray is showing off her political ignorance and doesn’t fully realize “which side” she’s on. For her sake, she’s going to have to figure things out and “pick a side,” or else it could turn into a bloody two years for her.


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