Patterico's Pontifications


The US Senate race in Illinois: Larger lesson?

Filed under: General — Karl @ 11:10 am

[Posted by Karl]

Hardly anyone outside Illinois wrote about this last week, let alone the larger implications:

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan will not run for a U.S. Senate seat–despite wooing by President Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett, Dick Durbin and the Democratic Senate political operation based in Washington. She will not run for governor. Instead, Madigan is announcing Wednesday afternoon that she is running for another term as Illinois Attorney General.


Madigan–called the most popular political figure in Illinois by Emanuel, Obama’s Chief of Staff–was considered the favorite to win a bid for governor or Senate. Her father is House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago) who is also the boss of the Illinois Democratic Party. He was a crucial factor in her winning her first attorney general race in 2002.

It’s easy to see why Madigan might take a pass on running for Governor — Illinois is a shambles financially and its government is slouching toward California-style paralysis. But what of the Senate race? Madigan’s supposed motive here was to avoid a primary challenge. But with the tainted Sen. Roland Burris out, her only serious competition in the Senate race would have been Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. He was an early Obama backer, but Obama apparently was hoping for Madigan.

Madigan’s withdrawal prompted Rep. Mark Kirk to reconsider running for Senate on the GOP side, where he may have a relatively clear field. Kirk is one of a number of moderate Republican candidates looking competitive in races for Senate seats now held by Democrats (conservatives may not be thrilled by that, but that’s a subject for another post). Recruitment efforts for House Republicans also looks promising so far.

In this context, one might wonder whether Madigan looked at the political landscape and saw what a lot of Republican challengers are seeing — a tough 2010 cycle for Democrats.


33 Responses to “The US Senate race in Illinois: Larger lesson?”

  1. My investment letter that I have read since 1977 came out today with the latest edition. His opinion (Dow Theory letters) is that the stock market is about to fall off the cliff it has been skirting. There is some whistling past the graveyard going on right now. The Obama polices have done nothing for the economy and they have wrecked the currency unless stopped at this point. The Treasury flooding the market with money can (theoretically) be reversed but the political changes Obama wants could take decades to correct.

    I think everybody with a pulse is starting to figure this out.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  2. Interesting development, especially in view of Ms. Madigan’s connections, possible endorsements, and name recofnition in Illinois…

    Perhaps you’re correct in that she can see the handwriting on the wall, both in terms of Illinois’ difficulties to come as well as those hopefully in the offing for the Democrats in 2010…

    Verrry Interestink, Karl; as always…

    Best Wishes

    Bob (99fc1b)

  3. Mike K, I find that information interesting in that it seems to jibe with other prominent national economist are saying; the ones, that is, who aren’t heavily invested(pardon the pun) in Obama and the Democrats success…

    Bob (99fc1b)

  4. Her father is House Speaker, and she is Attorney General.

    Sounds like she is the only thing between the Obama DOJ and the hoskow for most Illinois politicians.

    Neo (46a1a2)

  5. Lisa (D-Daddy’s Girl) wants to be Governor, not Senator. But she knows she can’t fix the current mess in Illinois, so she’ll bide her time for 4 years. She also might be waiting for her dad to get out of the way, in case he gets involved in any of the endless corruption scandals popping up daily in Chicago.

    Besides Alexi Giannoulious (D-Mob Bank), there is also Chris Kennedy (D-Merchandise Mart) about ready to jump into the Senate race. She would not have survived a three-way against two huge piles of money.

    Paul (f708d1)

  6. I thought Kirk was drooling over Roland B’s US Senate seat. To the best of my knowledge, the Illinois GOP has, in not so quiet terms, been telling him to not even bother running for higher office.

    Dan F (8ce868)

  7. “Madigan’s withdrawal prompted Rep. Mark Kirk to reconsider running for Senate on the GOP side, where he may have a relatively clear field. Kirk is one of a number of moderate Republican candidates looking competitive in races for Senate seats now held by Democrats (conservatives may not be thrilled by that, but that’s a subject for another post).”

    You missed it that Kirk is now waffling on whether he wants to run. Apparenly, the conservative wing of the party in Illinois hates Kirk because Kirk is a moderate (in particular, here, because Kirk voted for cap-and-trade), and thus is running a challenger. Which seems likely to chase Kirk out of the race, and assure the Democrats of another Senate seat that the Republicans could have had a strong challenger for if only they would accept moderates in the party.

    The conservatives chased Specter out of the party, handing the PA seat to the Democrats. They chased Tom Ridge away from running for the seat, further assuring the seat for the Democrats. And now the conservatives are in the process of ruining the Republicans’ chances of gaining a seat in Illinois.

    Conservatives seem to absolutely love being a minority party, as they seem to be doing everything in their power to stay that way.

    A.S. (09b2d3)

  8. There were several news reports on Friday that Kirk was out, but apparently he’s still considering a run for the Senate seat. His vote on Cap & Trade will not be a help, but only a moderate Republican has a chance here.

    Thanks Mike K, after getting about 20 – 30% back with the Bear rally, I think I’m going to move some 401(k) dough before I get creamed again.

    carlitos (268320)

  9. Note to self: click on the link before commenting. Otherwise you may look like a moron.

    Luckily, the conservative wing of the Illinois GOP didn’t win this time. Or so it appears.

    A.S. (09b2d3)

  10. I have spoken with people in the NEA and her polling is awesome for either office, so this is quite the surprise. There was some indication that given her father’s position, she had some inclination to stay away from the Gov position, to avoid internal conflicts that always arise, and to make a name for herself away from the Speaker. Plus, with Quinn finding out it is significantly more difficult to govern as opposed to being a gadfly, whoever gets the Gov will inherit a complete mess. Didn’t Teh One have her out to Washington recently to woo her for the Senate seat? This is a loss for Teh One, to be sure.

    JD (78ecba)

  11. And, in case non-Illinois readers think that this is no big deal and doesn’t matter nationally…

    Remember that we’d have Senator Jack Ryan right now, and a certain community organizer would be in Springfield, if not for some (Democratic?) chicanery regarding unsealed divorce records.

    I wish Allahpundit’s photoshops from that year were still around. That was funny stuff.

    carlitos (268320)

  12. His opinion (Dow Theory letters) is that the stock market is about to fall off the cliff it has been skirting.

    Oh, crap. I’ve already lost quite a bit in my mutual fund, and the thought of it tanking even more makes me ill.

    By contrast, I saw in today’s NY Times and in the following article how one of the darlings of Wall Street appears to be doing quite nicely. Although I’m of the right, I do admit to having some populist, or “progressive,” resentment about a company that glommed onto government bail-out money now cruising along rather happily, in spite of (or because of) prevailing economic trends.

    Today’s Wall Street Journal:

    If, as The New York Times reports today, Goldman will clear $2 billion in net income this quarter, it would make it the bank’s eighth best quarter since 1996, according to data compiled by CapitalIQ.

    There have been 49 quarters reported since then, with the high-water mark being the fourth quarter of 2007 ($3.22 billion). Back then, Goldman was churning out profits by trading credit derivatives, speculating on currencies and oil and placing big bets the roaring stock market.

    To put it into context, Goldman stands to earn more money than it did in such periods as the dot-com boom and the early years of the now dearly deceased leverage-finance boom.

    Goldman was valued at 15 times last-year’s per-share earnings in late 2000, and 10 times earnings in early 2007. With the stock surging another 5% to $149 in midday trading, it is trading at 32 times.

    Those numbers didn’t scare off analyst Meredith Whitney, who on Monday quite vociferously raised her price target on Goldman to $186 a share. Whitney cites Goldman’s role in issuing debt to ailing governments, which are raising new debt financing at a record clip to plug budget gaps. Whitney also said Goldman has been able to boost its profits by issuing corporate debt for companies in need of capital and from credit derivatives.

    These profits could prove short lived if the economy worsens. But for now Goldman is making the early part of 2009 look like the good old days of 2007. The question for investors is whether now is time to sell, not to buy.

    Mark (411533)

  13. Paul,

    Giannoulias did serious fundraising to date, but he was looking at trying the Obama nutroots path, b/c of the opposition he would have gotten from the Dem establishment had Madigan run.

    Kennedy is one of those who can spend a lot of money for not much result.

    Karl (a232e4)

  14. The conservatives chased Specter out of the party, handing the PA seat to the Democrats.

    The conservatives didn’t “chase” anyone out of the party – but the GOP had no other choice after so many betrayals from the duplicitous Specter. I used to respect his stands in the past, but he was exposed as just another elderly politico who’s only interested in hanging on to his Senatorial seat, despite the costs to his own party. Along with Snowe and Collins, Specter basically winded up representing the GOP in name only – by easily caving in to Obama’s ginormous stimulus plan, the three Senators handed him the inane “bi – partisan consensus” he so desperately needed. And for what? Now our economy’s in the tank, and looks to be in the throes of an honest to God Depression – gee, thanks for allowing Obama such great cover, guys! At some point the party must ask itself what price for such outwardly arrogant postures and constant undermining of what the loyal opposition must entail when it’s the predominately minority party.

    No one’s asking anyone to be dogmatic in every decision, but if you’re going to continue to hold your own party in utter contempt, better to try to get someone in there who at least tries to follow some party discipline. And as for Kirk, you’re right that in most cases only moderates from the GOP will work here – but Peter Fitzgerald was no moderate by any measure, yet he’s one of the last honest politicos we’ve had in this state over the past 10 years, and he was chased out of his office by Bush and the IL GOP for having the balls to clean up the rampant corruption in this state, no matter where the chips may fall.

    Dmac (e6d1c2)

  15. Apparenly, the conservative wing of the party in Illinois hates Kirk because Kirk is a moderate (in particular, here, because Kirk voted for cap-and-trade),

    It’s pretty idiotic, if not irresponsible, to be falling for the pray-at-the-altar-of-Green-ism mentality that has become quite fashionable among growing numbers of people throughout the Industrial world. I can’t help but think that’s to this era what Smoot-Hawley was to the 1930s. IOW, another part of the puzzle that will contribute to ongoing economic stagnation (or decline) and dislocation for years and years to come.

    However, I do think it’s foolish for people on the right to pout and say if they can’t have everything and everyone slotted in the perfect way, they’ll stay home on election day and not vote, or they’ll vote for “none of the above” (or leave a part of their ballot blank), or, worse, they’ll vote for the Democrat/liberal.

    Mark (411533)

  16. Kirk is a conservative.

    Wow that makes Schumer a conservative too doesn’t it? Kirk was one of the eight who voted for Obama’s cap and trade.

    They don’t make conservatives like this where I come from. Here we call them Vichyites.

    The GOP is in the shape it is because of the RINOs.

    Thomas Jackson (8ffd46)

  17. Mark, they are playing with your money already. That is bailout money flying around.

    More to the point, my ex-wife is spending next weekend closing another bank for the FDIC. She thought she was retired but the goofs in the financial industry have just added a new porch to her house and a new paint job. The old time bankers are making money closing banks because they know where the bodies tend to be buried.

    because Kirk voted for cap-and-trade), and thus is running a challenger. Which seems likely to chase Kirk out of the race, and assure the Democrats of another Senate seat that the Republicans could have had a strong challenger for if only they would accept moderates in the party.

    Cap and Trade is a death sentence for the US economy. Anyone who would vote for it is NOT a moderate. It is a candy store for Democrats and their supporters. At one time the carbon credits were to be auctioned off and the money used to fund Obamacare. If you haven’t been paying attention, you might have missed the fact that the auction is not happening. The credits are passed out to political supporters of you-know-who.

    That bill will probably NOT pass as the Congress does not have a suicide wish, no matter how much it looks that way at times, and the folks who voted for it, D and R, are going to have some ‘splaning to do. The economy is headed further south and lampposts are going to start looking tempting to some of the disgruntled.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  18. The IL GOP has not been in good shape since Harold Smith was the Party Chairman, back in the mid-90’s, back when Pate Philip and Lee Daniels were relevant.

    JD (cc3aa7)

  19. Walking down State Street earlier today, I was approached by multiple cause-heads, trying to get me to sign up for Environment Illinois and other such nonsense enviro-whacko groups. I let them speak their piece, then asked them how big of an area would be required to run the city of Chicago on solar and wind power. Blank face. I then asked how much I should expect my power bill to increase under Cap & Destroy. No answer. I then asked if they supported nuclear power. No answer. I kept walking.

    JD (1762b4)

  20. The Democrats want the next governor of Ill to be a rino Republican. I think the Democrats allowed Davis to be recalled in California and replaced with the Kennedy-Republican Ahnold for the same reason Illinois wants a Republican governor. It makes perfect sense from their perspective; they get to continue doing the damage while the Republican “brand” takes at least part of the hit for it.

    Conservatives should do everything in their power to ensure that Kirk or any rino doesn’t become governor. Even voting for a liberal Democrat opponent is preferable.

    jcurtis (14bf32)

  21. I have to wonder if she took a look at some of the Broadway Bank’s less savory “customers” (including da prez) and decided that, hey, running against Giannoulias might not be healthy, speaker’s daughter or not.

    mojo (8096f2)

  22. I wish folks would read up on exactly what the IL parties became during the 80’s – specifically, both the GOP and the Dems joined forces to exploit the corruption and divide the spoils amongst themselves. This unholy alliance was thus named The Combine, and only someone like Fitzgerald (the prosecutor, not the past Senator who appointed him) will be able to clean it up. Madigan knows this full well, and she’s wise to keep away from the coming carnage that’s only in it’s initial stages. You think Blago and Burris are national jokes? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

    Dmac (e6d1c2)

  23. jcurtis,

    Kirk is running for Sen., not Gov.

    Re: Cap-and-Trade

    Kirk voted on the “wrong” side of the issue. But if we’re talking practical politics: (1) it was a vote he took when he was leaning against running for the Senate; (2) the vote was likely a sop to his Obama-supporting district, after voting against most of the O! agenda; (3) it hurts him if he gets a primary challenger (as would other parts of his record), but not in a gen’l election in IL; (4) it may have seemed like a cheap vote to him, given the likelihood that cap-and-trade dies in the Senate. Again, I’m not defending Kirk’s vote, but cynically looking at the reasons for it.

    Would I rather have Peter Fitzgerald back? Sure. But he doesn’t seem to be coming back, and the current GOP bench in IL leaves a great deal to be desired. At the margin, even if Kirk runs and loses, he probably makes the race competitive enough to keep the DNC and DSCC from pouring more resources into other races against vulnerable Republicans.

    Karl (a232e4)

  24. Since Fitzgerald’s a millionaire and got nothing but grief from his own party in doing what he felt was the right thing for all of his constituents, I sadly concur.

    Dmac (e6d1c2)

  25. 23

    Okay. I was thinking of Kirk Dillard, the guy who the Republicans seem to be running for Governor in Illinois, who made a campaign ad for Obama.

    jcurtis (14bf32)

  26. Even voting for a liberal Democrat opponent is preferable.

    I think the people who feel and respond that way rescind their rights to complain about ongoing political trends — certainly if those trends are moving to the left — from that day forward.

    This makes me think of my right-leaning, generally Republican brother who voted for Obama last November. He told me that he had grown weary of and was spooked by current economic problems, which had started up while a Republican occupied the White House.

    Human nature being what it is, he’s one of those who I’m sure is superstitious (consciously or not) about the timing of Bush/Republicans being in DC, on one hand, and then, on the other, the gathering storm of major economic turmoil, and reacted accordingly. Nonsensical and naive, to be sure, but not entirely puzzling.

    He’s also kind of a “lefty” when it comes to environmental issues—I recall debating with him about global warming over a year ago and saying that if he believed manmade carbon dioxide was so powerful and horrible, he should look straight into the sun on any given clear day around noontime without a protective shield in front of his eyeballs. At the same time, he’s also expressed some touchy-feely concerns about skyrocketing healthcare costs.

    The thing about him is he’s also told me he is very disgusted by the current mess in Sacramento, a situation he does blame fully on Democrats (and rightly so).

    I realize in all these months of sporadic conversations on politics I’ve never once spouted off to him something like “well, if you’re so pissed off at the left for screwing up California, then what the hell do you think Obama in the White House is going to do the nation in general?!”

    Mark (411533)

  27. Illinois may be run by a bunch of crooked Democrats right now, but not-too-very-long-ago it was run by a similar group of crooked Republicans. The D’s and the R’s sre all controlled by an ultra-sleazy group of businessmen and political insiders, who enrich themselves no matter who wins. A lot will come out when Blago goes to trial.

    As an Illinois resident (and resident of Kirk’s north suburban district) I am proud to be able to say that I will never cast a vote for Mark Kirk again after his cap-and-trade vote. If I have to vote Libertarian to avoid voting for his Democratic opponent, so be it.

    Why not – I voted Libertarian for president last year, since the idea of McCain winning Illinois (Obama won by, what, 77%?) was too laughable to even consider for a moment.


    MrJimm (cb3046)

  28. The present experience of seeing Democrats run the country might be salutary for the generation that does not remember Carter. That is, it will be if we survive it.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  29. The only thing that makes me feel a tad better about Cali’s political/economic quagmire, is Chicago.

    Dana (57e332)

  30. 26

    Kinda took a snippet out of context a bit there, didn’t you?

    I’m not sure Schwarzenegger’s governorship has helped Republicans more than they would have been helped if Gray Davis had remained there. It just put a Republican label on a Democrat mess. Republicans elsewhere in the US can’t even point to California as an example of Democrat failure because of Schwarzenegger.

    jcurtis (14bf32)

  31. My current congresscritter is Dave Reichert, another (R) who decided that his emotions are more important than his reason.

    I hope to find and fund a challenger in the primary so he can retire to consider the error of his ways.

    steve miller (772b6e)

  32. I am an Illinoisan. People elsewhere sometimes view Illinois as a solid Blue state, but a huge swath of the state outside of Crook County has historically voted Republican. Many who crossed party lines to vote for O for President in the last election because he was a “home town guy” already recognize their mistake. Mark Kirk won handily as an R in a suburban district that went for Obama. His recent Cap and Trade vote angered many of us, but we understand the tightrope he is walking and he has been a staunch fiscal conservative on every other House vote. My opinion is that many people in Illinois would love to see the D. stranglehold broken to the extent of having a moderate/independent Republican senator for balance. Kirk will be an attractive candidate statewide if he decides to run and the Democrats know it.

    The level to which Kirk is already being attacked in blogs by commentors who are only pretending to be conservatives and are really part of the Axelrod astrotuf community is telling and shows how scared the Democrats are of him. Anyone who says they are conservative, live in Illinois, and would vote for a Democrat over “that traitor RINO” is not credible and is full of it. They are also making up alleged policy “positions” that Kirk wouldn’t recognize. It’s already getting very dirty.

    Gianoulias will have a big bankroll but is kind of sleazy and really will not play well statewide. (This is probably why he is not getting great support from Rahm and the WH.) Chris Kennedy is a respected low key businessman but it is unclear that he has the stomach for political campaigning. Lisa Madigan is now out of the race. She is married and has 2 small kids. She didn’t want to commute to Washington or tie herself up for six years as senator. Yes, everbody knows she DOES eventually want to be Governor, but this is not an ideal time for her to run thanks to the Blago scandal, all the ongoing investigations, and the state’s serious financial problems. She’s being smart to sit tight for now.

    It really is quite a volatile political climate right now in Illinois and I predict 2010 is going to be very interesting!

    elizabeth (15c702)

  33. I’m not sure Schwarzenegger’s governorship has helped Republicans more than they would have been helped if Gray Davis had remained there.

    I can’t be into purely political strategizing since I live in the “Golden State” and cringe when I think of how much more of a debacle this part of the country would be in right now if the uber-liberal legislature had been managing things in tandem with a flat-out liberal governor.

    Yes, I know Schwarzenegger is very squishy, but I give him some slack because we, the stupid voters of California, pushed him to the left a few years ago when we resoundingly voted down reform propositions he had placed on the ballot.

    And if Gray Davis hadn’t been recalled, not only would we now have even more ridiculously high rates of state spending, but our taxes would be far, far higher, and far more across-the-board.

    I’d have been willing to apply some sort of game-playing tactics to Sacramento in order to benefit the Republican Party if a good majority of the voters in California weren’t so idiotically, reliably liberal. But that’s not the real world, so I make do with the cards I’m (or we’re) handed.

    Again, the bunch that deserves the biggest blame in all of this is not so much the Democrat or Republican Party, or even the state legislature or governor’s office. No, the biggest blame has to be reserved for all the dopey voters of California who are in love with the concept of “I’m liberal, therefore I am.”

    Mark (411533)

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