Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Tuesday | April 22, 2003

Dems "sure thing" in Illinois not so sure

The Senate outlook for 2004 clearly favors Republicans, with Democrats defending more seats and few legitimate Dem pickup opportunities.

One of the few bright spots was Illinois, where GOPer Sen. Fitzgerald was all but assured defeat. Seeing the writing on the wall, Fitzgerald announced he would not run for reelection, and as Archpundit reports in the Political State Report, things are about to get tougher for Dems.

Illinois and national Republicans are actively encouraging Jim Edgar to run for the US Senate Seat being vacated by retiring Peter Fitzgerald. Edgar appears to be listening which has surprised many who thought he had had enough of public life. At least a small part of his decision seems to be close personal ties to the President.

If Edgar gets in he is the presumptive frontrunner for the nomination and the general election. Edgar's experience includes 2 1/2 terms as Secretary of State and 2 terms as Governor. He won reelection as Governor in 1994 with 64 % of the vote against Dawn Clark Netsch who had the unfortunate inability to lie about school funding. He left the Governor's Office with high approval ratings and seems to have escaped any fallout from the Secretary of State scandals.

I actually voted for Edgar against Netsch. Why? This paragraph sums it up:
..."Edgar is a fiscal conservative who supports a woman's right to reproductive freedom, affirmative action, gay rights and environmental protection." Additionally, he supports gun control.
In other words, Edgar is exactly what the national Democratic Party is becoming -- fiscally responsible, socially liberal.

On the other hand, things are not all rosy for Edgar. He would face a spirit primary challenge (or challenges) from the Right, as the state's emboldened wingnuts make hay out of "establishment" Republicans.

And even in the general, Edgar faces a daunting task. The state has become solidly Democratic and Bush is radioactive. While Edgar's politics may closely match his state's, his allegiance to Bush is a liability. And Democratic gains the past decade have decimated the GOP's Illinois operation.

Other than Illinois, the Senate outlook gets pretty bleak. The Dems should have a fighting chance for pickups in Alaska, Colorado (if Campbell doesn't run for reelection), Kentucky and Pennsylvania. Kansas may be a possibility if Rep. Moore decides to challenge Brownback. But all in all, Illinois appears to be the only "sure thing", and even that is less certain with Edgar entereing the fray.

On the other side, Dems will face tough fights in Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, and South Dakota. Georgia is almost certainly a GOP pickup.

For added heartburn -- if either Kerry (MA) or Lieberman (CT) win the presidency, their empty Senate seats will be filled by their respective GOP governors. We may see "Sen. Weld" in Massachusetts after all (though I'll happily trade a Senate seat for the presidency any day of the week).

Posted April 22, 2003 07:40 AM | Comments (70)


Bush Administration
Business and Economy
Foreign Policy

© 2002. Steal all you want.
(For non-commercial use, that is.)