I hope everyone had a truly wonderful Thanksgiving holiday - TA took some time off from politics, but is better for it and is ready to dive in for a rockin' and rollin' primary race, and then on to the general.
There's been some interesting developments here and there over the last couple days, so let's spend some time playing catch-up, and then we'll start hitting hard later this week.
First off, the Daily Herald is reporting that the on-again, off-again campaign of 10th District GOP contender Patricia Bird is finally over - not that it ever really got too far off the ground. As we suggested a while ago, her attitude seemed much more attuned to running for school board, not Congress, and after TA watched her performance at the RJC GOP debate, Bird earned the very first official "Not Recommended" designation from Team America. This doesn't do too much to winnow the GOP field down, since we still have six candidates - but it leaves State Representative Beth Coulson as the only female contender, which should be an advantage for her.
We also saw a major endorsement for U.S Senate for Congressman Mark Kirk coming from fellow Congressman Aaron Schock of the Peoria area. As Rick Pearson at the Chicago Tribune's Clout Street blog opined,
Schock’s endorsement could help Kirk as the socially moderate Chicago-area congressman tries to establish conservative bona fides to win the GOP primary in a crowded field. Kirk’s opponents have questioned his conservative credentials.
Schock, who represents a traditionally conservative central Illinois district, lauded Kirk’s opposition to the federal stimulus program, the Democratic-led House health care reform proposal, and labor-backed “card check” legislation that would make it easier for unions to organize.
Schock joins Congressmen Judy Biggert, John Shimkus and Peter Roskam in endorsing Kirk - each of whom, with the possible exception of Biggert, are all seen as more conservative than Kirk.
It's becoming more and more apparent that the Dems are really concerned about keeping the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Roland Burris in Dem hands - especially if Mark Kirk gets the GOP nomination and IL State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias gets the Dem nod. Some of the best info about Giannoulias is being set forth by his own inter-party competition, as shown an interview of Dem contender (and former Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chicago Inspector General) David Hoffman by Public Affairs host Jeff Berkowitz. (h/t Illinois Review).
Of course, the best result for the GOP is for the Dems to effectively beat up and bloody Alexi in the primary, but that he hangs on to be the Dem nominee for the general.
On the GOP side, Mark Kirk still appears to be the strong front-runner, despite effort from my law school chum Pat Hughes to gain traction. Lately, Hughes has been working hard to win the endorsement of conservative senator Jim DeMint, who heads the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF). Hughes promoted the fact he went to D.C. last week to beg for the SCF's support, but we've heard nary a word as to whether any such endorsement will issue. Hughes doesn't need an endorsement from a South Carolina senator nearly as much as he needs big money to gain some much-needed name recognition among primary voters. So, even if an endorsement by DeMint/SCF comes eventually, unless there is a gigantic check attached to it, it's not going to get Pat where he needs to be.
If the SCF endorsement was obtained by Hughes already, I would not have announced it over Thanksgiving weekend either, so maybe his trip wasn't for nothing. We'll see. However, according to the SCF website, "SCF only endorses the most rock-solid conservative Senate candidates nationwide. These candidates must also have the potential to win." It's the second sentence that ought to be troubling to the SCF, in terms of whether Hughes is a good investment. So far, no reputable polling shows Hughes anywhere near to striking distance with Kirk - and with millions in campaign funds to Hughes' pittance, Kirk will obviously spend whatever it takes to emerge victorious in February.
I've been thinking about Pat's message lately, and I have a few questions I'm saving for him when he comes to the Libertyville Township endorsement session in a few weeks. But here's one freebie: If Hughes' shtick is that he's an unwavering platform conservative who can be counted never to sway from rock-solid conservative ideals, with no compromise (just check out his talking points set forth at the SCF website), how the heck is Pat going to attract moderate Republicans and independents to enable a win in the general?
In a recent discussion with Pat, it became clear to me that Pat thinks that Illinois is a lot more conservative than anyone else seems to believe. Well, tell that to Alan Keyes (who received only 27% of the vote in his 2004 senate battle against Barack Obama - and, of course, Obama went on to win Illinois in the 2008 presidential election with 61.9% of the vote). Regardless, no Republican can win in Illinois unless a large majority of self-identifying Republicans (both moderate and conservatives) as well as a hefty portion of independents vote for the GOP nominee. Otherwise, the Chicago machine is simply going to roll right over us, as usual. I simply don't think that any candidate besides Mark Kirk has the experience and organization to stand a chance.
We have about two months and some change before the February primary. With Christmas/Hanukkah mixed in, that's not much time for the primary candidates to make their moves. I think the U.S. Senate race on the GOP side is pretty much over with Kirk the inevitable winner, but IL-10, and of course, the governor's race, is still pretty much open, though I predict a front-runner will emerge in both by the first week or two in January. Stay tuned to Team America as we move forward...