The big news over the weekend was Democrat Bill Foster's upset win over Jim Oberweis in former Speaker Denny Hastert's district, IL-14, for the special election to fill Hastert's unexpired term.
There's no question that this gives the Dems a boost, and they will play it up for all it's worth, and them some. The media is, of course, happy to cooperate. The immediate reaction from the Dems was to chortle with joy and rub their smarmy hands together in anticipation of another win by Foster in November, as well as the hope that this win is a preview of the national sentiment to break Democratic.
But, not so fast. Let's debunk a few theories while Rahm Emanuel is still probably sleeping off the champagne hangover.
First, Bill Foster won a victory last night with 52,010 votes to Oberweis's 46,988. While he should be pleased, he might worry that in November, 220,000 additional voters will come to the polls -- 121,000 of them Republicans in a district that went 55% for Bush last time. Here are the numbers: in the 2004 Presidential Election, 279,000 IL-14 people voted: Hastert (R) 191,618, Zamora (D) 87,590. Zamora (D) was crushed in IL-14 in '04 with 25,000 more votes that Foster received last night. Recall that Foster won yesterday with only 98,000 people voting, beating Oberweis by only about 5,000 votes. With 220,000 more voters coming in November, Foster might not want to buy permanent furniture for the office just yet...
As to the notion that IL-14 is a weather vane for the upcoming November elections, I would not read too much into that, either. The fact is that Oberweis has a lot of negatives as a candidate, from his hard-line positions on issues like immigration, to the fact that he is viewed by many as a perennial candidate who is trying to buy his way into office any way he can. Those are challenges Oberweis must overcome in November, but the challenges that Jim Oberweis personally faces as a candidate have little to do with the situation in IL-8 for Steve Greenberg or IL-10 with our own Mark Kirk.
Also, Oberweis went into the battle with Foster right from an extremely negative primary battle with state senator Chris Lauzen, the memory of which will fade by November... and, perhaps Lauzen will even bring himself to endorse Oberweis in the name of party unity. As to Emanuel's attempt to tie Kirk's changes in with Oberweis, Rahm might want to remember that the Chicago Tribune supported Foster, a situation that is extremely unlikely to occur in IL-10.
And, of course, everyone wants to talk about whether Obama's endorsement of Foster had any effect. It seemed to me that the ad buy for the Obama endorsement was not heavy, and I really question how many people even saw it. But, did people vote for Foster because they are dying to get to the polls in November and vote for Obama, and this was a temporary "fix"? That, too, seems a bit of a stretch. For an opposing view by a professional Obama-supporting spinmeister, convicted felon Bob Creamer (husband of congresswoman Jan Schakowsky), look here. I think the more interesting question is what's going to happen to Foster if Obama DOESN'T endorse Foster in November, as more details about Foster's messy divorce and other issues come up, along with Foster's penchant for stretching the truth in his campaign ads. Obama, if he is the Dem candidate, will be taking care to vet his endorsements pretty carefully, lest his brand of "change" in politics be tarnished by association with the wrong candidates. Foster already had Creamer and Jan Schakowsky out going door-to-door for him. Great team to have in your corner on a "change" platform (not). Obama might want to drop Foster an e-mail to revise his field team a bit if he wants to keep that endorsement.
Oh, and one more interesting aspect to Foster's win- since Foster will now be an incumbent in November (which obviously carries some advantages), this is now a "defend" district for the Dems--along with IL-8, where the Dems will spend heavily to once again stave off defeat for Melissa Bean (who won last time with 50.1%, if I recall correctly), there will be millions spent by both parties in the IL-14 race in November. With all of these expensive defensive races to fund, notwithstanding the DCCC cash hoard, they will still have to think long and hard about making a serious run for Mark Kirk in the 10th, who will have millions of his own, and an outstanding record with which to defend his seat. Jerry Weller's seat open in IL-11 is also a tempting target, which will likely be a much higher priority for DCCC than going mano-a-mano against Kirk.
So, while the Dems are likely to crow about their temporary victory in IL-14, the legitimacy of applying the results in this race as predictors of any other, especially IL-10, seems to be a big stretch.
OH, AND SPEAKING OF THOSE OBAMA COATTAILS: All the Dems are just falling over themselves in anticipation of Obama being at the top of the ticket in November and carrying them all to victory. That happy fantasy assumes, however, that Obama continues to get a pass from the MSM and nothing more damaging comes to light than what has already been revealed about his ties to Tony Rezko, etc. We tend to believe, however, there is a lot more to unvocer and discuss about Obama's real past. Whether the MSM has covered it until now, we can be pretty well assured that camp McCain isn't going to let Obama's political past go unnoticed. Check out some great research and commentary by Rick Moran (a Libertyville native!) on Obama's political upbringing here in the political garden of Illinois/Chicago.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE... The Swamp has a link to Saturday Night Live's latest spoof on the "3 a.m. call" issue. It's definitely worth a view.