On Tuesday, a five-term senator from Pennsylvania was defeated by a congressman; Arkansas’s senator was forced into a primary run-off; and in Kentucky, the Republican establishment’s candidate lost to a self-proclaimed Tea Partier.
Why? Most of the mainstream media would have you believe voters are mad as hell and full of anti-incumbent venom.
But that explanation doesn't play in Illinois. We didn't toss out all the incumbents. Why?
In our February primary, the incumbent governor beat back a strong challenger, Dan Hynes. The winning Senate candidates were a young protégé of President Obama’s and a middle-of-the-road congressman who was endorsed by every respectable Republican. (Bill Brady won the GOP nomination for governor because he was the only Downstater, not because he was the most conservative candidate.)
Here in Illinois we're mad as hell about Rod Blagojevich, but that doesn’t make us want to dump on any incumbent we can find.
Illinois is a radically middle-of-the-road state. Our Democrats aren’t left-wingers, and our Republicans aren’t Tea Partiers. We don’t like revolutions. We’ll replace individual parts when they go bad, as we did with George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, but we never discard the entire Machine.
Incumbents lose because they screw up personally, not because It’s time to send those bastards in City Hall/Springfield/Washington a message.
Republicans kept control of Illinois' governor’s mansion for 26 years before Ryan blew it with his licenses-for-bribes scandal. Mayor Daley has been in power for 21 years. Michael Madigan has been House speaker for 28 years, with a two-year break.
Fox News (predictably) ascribed Tuesday’s results to an “anti-Obama” sentiment abroad in the land. But here in the Land of Obama, we’re not looking for candidates to undermine our favorite son. In his Senate campaign, Alexi Giannoulias is desperate for any support from the president.
Pat Quinn and Alexi Giannoulias aren’t struggling against their Republican opponents because voters want to send a message to Obama. Quinn is struggling because he can’t fill a $12 billion budget hole. Giannoulias is struggling because his family bank scandals have voters worried that he’s irresponsible with money.
If you believe the latest poll that shows Giannoulias tied with Mark Kirk, he’s performing far better than a candidate with his resume ought to be. If Quinn and Giannoulias lose, they can blame themselves, not Obama. Or the “mad as hell” voters.
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