In no particular order, here are some of the thoughts I've had in the past 48-odd hours since the election.
First, let's just all say it together: "Senator-Elect Mark Kirk." Wow, that sounds great! Let's not forget in all the news about the Quinn-Brady drama, Walsh-Bean, the Beer Summit, and other post-election intrigues, we will now have a U.S. Senator from Lake County, the first since Adlai Stevenson III, if he counts. Probably more important, we took back the U.S. Senate seat that was formerly occupied by now-President Barack Obama, and more recently, Blago-appointee Roland Burris.
Mark is not especially tall, so I wonder if the President will invite Mark onto the White House basketball court for one of his famous pick-up games, and give him a little street lesson on what happens when you beat the President's basketball buddy in a U.S. Senate race. ;-) I suppose if Obama really misses Alexi that much, he can give Alexi a job in his administration somewhere, which I bet is a good possibility, since Alexi needs something to do, and to get some age on him, before he comes back to make a run for something else here in Illinois.
I've talked to some of Kirk's staff in the last day or so, and it appears to me that they have basically not even had time to process all this, as they instead are concerned with logistics for the swearing-in, and what the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress is going to look like. For the first time in seven years, I believe Mark is planning a few days away, though, so good for him.
What else? Well, there's the big win by Bob Dold over three-time loser Dan Seals. And yes, despite some protestations from the usual quarters, he is a L-O-S-E-R. I wonder if the DCCC will ask for the $8 million+ in campaign cash that they have wasted on Seals over the past three cycles. Believe it or not, I read some speculation about whether Seals would consider yet another race for Congress in 2012. Sometimes you just have shake your head over these things.
Bob Dold himself credits his win on reaching out to the people of the 10th District, and I couldn't agree more. As we've said, some people thought his campaign bus was a stupid idea, but Dold was out in the District making as many direct voter contacts as possible, while Seals was.... well, during the last two weeks of the election cycle, I had no idea what Seals was doing. As we've seen here and on other blogs, even many Dems resoundingly criticize Seals' campaign strategy and implementation, so we're not alone on this. I should also note that my nine-year old still insists on watching the "Seals for Dold" video, which I have to say I find funnier each and every time I see it. For real, Broheim?
Speaking of the Kirk-Dold interplay, Russell Lissau at the Daily Herald takes a look at the odd circumstance that, since Mark Kirk will be sworn in early to the U.S. Senate as a result of the "special" election to replace Roland Burris until the rest of the new Senate is sworn in this coming January, there will be a temporary vacancy in the 10th District. But my friend John McGovern (who came in to work for Dold in the last months of the campaign) explains in the article that there is no provision for fulling such temporary vacancies by appointment, as there is with the Senate.
Moving on, the biggest disappointment in this election cycle for me (and I would argue, for the State of Illinois) is the failure of the House Republicans to make any meaningful inroads towards stripping Speaker Mike Madigan of his majority. Not only will Madigan and the Dems control the remap process, which spells bad news for the GOP, but more importantly, the people of this State have seen fit to send back the very same folks who drove us into a $13 billion budget hole. We simply can't keep kicking the can down the road and expect to dig our way out of this mess. Already, another $4 billion in borrowing is being discussed in Springfield as the way to temporarily plug the budget gap. But what next? By the way, we'll be watching all of the Dems that won election, such as Carol Sente, Karen May, Daniel Biss, etc., to see if they make good on their promises to be "independent" and vote against party leadership when it is in the interests of their districts. WE WILL BE WATCHING YOU. For better or for worse, it's not a heckuva long time until they will be up for re-election.
We did better in the State Senate, of course, where Suzi Schmidt trounced Michael Bond. What goes around, comes around, buddy. Whaddya think Geo thinks about you now? The rest of us will keep an eye on Bond to see where he lands in a state-appointment and see your tax dollars continue to pad the pockets of Democratic politicians. Our eyes will also turn to the Lake County Board to see who is appointed to fill Suzi Schmidt's spot (my guess is Dan Venturi, Lake Villa Supervisor, but we'll see), and how the leadership positions on the Board are jostled around a bit after Suzi's departure to the General Assembly. I'm hoping for David Stolman for County Board Chairman, but we'll see.
I've droned on long enough, but I also wanted to mention the BIGGEST surprise of the election (although we'll give Bill Brady's loss an honorable mention, since it seemed to go against the majority of the polling), which is, of course, Joe Walsh's slim victory over Congresswoman Melissa Bean in the 8th District. Even though some polling showed Walsh ahead, really no one except he, his wife, and his die-hard supporters believed he had a chance. While his lead appears to be narrowing somewhat as late-arriving ballots are counted, he still appears to be holding on. This one isn't over by a longshot, however - remember how Al Franken basically stole the election in Minnesota through the recount process, and it's not impossible the same could happen here, if the GOP isn't careful.