2010 is here, and for those of us of a certain age, it probably has the same psychological effect as when 2001 finally came around. Or perhaps it's just me and I've read too much Arthur C. Clarke. When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, 2010 used to be a year that seemed so far off in the future that it could never really come.
Well, folks, now it's here, and we must now look ahead "in" 2010, rather than "to" 2010, to see what the ever-changing political landscape may bring to us in February, and then November.
On one hand, I am constantly reminded of the new dynamics in politics based on 24/7/365 news and the 24 hour (or less) news cycle, and the vast amount of political discourse that takes place on the Internet among bloggers, commenters to on-line news articles, social media like Facebook and Twitter, and of course, the omnipresent chatter of cable news.
On the other hand, I am also reminded that for the vast majority of the electorate, they are simply not paying attention, and many won't, even under the barrage of polticial advertising that we expect to endure in the next 30 days.
So where does that leave us? The primary election in February, given the chill and lack of general interest in the overall electorate, may hold more than a few surprises for us. But before we all go predicting that every dark-horse candidate will be victorious in February, we need to remember that money talks in politics, and outside of the Chicago Machine, I know of no candidate, or other political organization (including the so-called Tea Partiers) that has enough of a grass-roots organization that is capable of turning out enough of the vote on their own to counter-act the effectiveness of simply outspending your opponent. Yes, I know, there are plenty of exceptions that prove the rule. But so far this cycle, I see the advantage going to the proven fundraisers.
So, where does that leave us? Mark Kirk for U.S. Senate is about to unleash some killer fundraising numbers for the past quarter, I have no doubt. They will totally eclipse anything that any other GOP challenger has managed to scrape together -- and indeed, it seems that some are not even trying. I hope for my old chum Patrick Hughes's sake that he ends up with enough left in his campaign account on February 3rd to pay himself back the $250K of seed money he loaned his campaign so the kids can go to college.
Speaking of Pat, we haven't heard much out of him lately, although I did chuckle at this short article I found in which he claimed that he was the Republican candidate who could win independent and Democratic votes in the general election. Um, sorry? The candidate whose whole platform is based on dogmatic adherence to hard core conservative values, and that this election is a battle for the soul of the Republican party, thinks that HE'S going to appeal to independents and Dems?
Anyway, I digress. On the Dem side, I don't know where the numbers between Alexi Giannoulias and David Hoffman are going to fall out, but I think that while Hoffman has run a good race, he's just not going to be able to stop Alexi's momentum. But that's as we want it, so the Alexi-Kirk match up is going all according to plan.
In IL-10, from what I am hearing on the street, the GOP race is shaping up to be a two-person sprint between Bob Dold and State Rep. Beth Coulson. Dold may have an edge in fundraising once the numbers for this past quarter are reported (but keep an eye on the number of big donors who have already maxed out for Dold for the entire campaign cycle) but I hear that Coulson is expected to announce some huge endorsements soon, piling on the endorsements of most establishment Republicans, including former Governor Jim Edgar.
There has been a lot of talk about up-and-comer Dr. Arie Friedman here, but it seems likely that he isn't going to have the serious cash his opponents will have to be competitive. Businessman Dick Green is an earnest chap, but still seems to be struggling for traction, and it's likely that Green, Dold and Friedman will simply split votes (and we may include even 3 or 4 votes for Paul Hamann), allowing Coulson a potentially easy win.
On the Dem side, perennial candidate Dan Seals is giving State Rep. Julie Hamos a serious run, with some predicting that he will win, simply based on his name recognition. But many have thought time and again that Seals was poised to grab the ring, only to be beaten in the end. As we have said often, Seals' only credential for being in Congress is that he's run for Congress. I'll stack the accomplishments of any of the GOP contenders against Seals for a win in the general. Hamos has more accomplishments, but more negatives too, so this will be interesting no matter how it turns out in Feb. With the national trend looking favorable for the GOP (as of this week, anyway), it's not clear that IL-10 will be the easy pick-up that many Dems anticipated when Mark Kirk announced he was running for U.S. Senate.
I've said enough for one post. What do you all think?