Has Dan Seals been abandoned by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which was supposed to roll in like thunder and level the playing field to make up for Seals' massive shortfall in fundraising (as least compared to incumbent Mark Kirk?) It's a question that ought to be weighing on every Chicago political reporter's mind after the DNC got rolling a few days ago now.
A few months ago, Dan Seals was the flavor of the month for national Democrats. Barack Obama was the nominee and suddenly Mark Kirk looked vulnerable. In February, the chairman of the DCCC, Chris Van Hollen, came in to stump for Dan. TA noted back then that Van Hollen's support seemed tepid at best -- but national Democrats were willing to give Dan a shot.
The Obama-euphoria even led the Cook Political Report to upgrade the IL-10 contest -- and as you can see, Dan was pretty excited.
But something has happened -- it looks like the DCCC is walking away from Dan Seals.
Yesterday, as the Politico reported, Chris Van Hollen welcomed the DCCC's top 50 candidates for change on to the stage with him at the Democratic National Convention. Dan Seals wasn't there and wasn't mentioned (though Debbie Halverson was mentioned and Bill Foster got a shout-out in Van Hollen's speech). In fact, the Daily Herald even reported live from the Illinois delegation breakfast in Denver -- and while the article mentions the Kirk-Seals race, there's no mention of Dan being at the convention and getting any love from the DCCC.
Is it because of Seals' failed gas stunt?
Is it because Roll Call named him carpetbagger of the year?
Is it because Dan took $14,000 from Charlie Rangel?
Did they find out what was in the envelope Dan took from Rostenkowski?
It could be -- but it's probably because Kirk Looks Strong, according to the pundits. With a 21-point lead, an endorsement from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the launch of TV ads in August, Seals is looking very weak now. Seals looks so weak, in fact, that the Rothenberg Political Report recently moved the Kirk-Seals race from Toss Up to Leans Republican -- a major backslide for Seals. I don't blame them -- Chris Van Hollen even co-authored legislation with Congressman Kirk as recently as July 1st.
In addition, we know from the blogosphere that Dan or the DCCC recently took their own poll to test the waters -- and since we haven't heard about it in a month, it must've been pretty bad for Dan.
So reporters, if you're going to bed scratching your heads and wondering why Dan Seals isn't getting the love -- well, it's not all that confusing when you put the pieces together.
UPDATED: The Waukegan News-Sun "Newshound" noticed the same lack of Seals-mojo at the DNC that we did and ran this post online this morning. Check it out.