Little Debbie snack cakes always seemed to finish in second place behind Hostess cakes. Twinkies and Ho-Hos were on sale at the finest supermarkets, while Little Debbie Devil Squares occupied the 50-cent rack at the liquor store. Little Debbie was never as famous as Twinkie the Kid.
But last week, Hostess announced it was going out of business. Little Debbie, it turned out, had outlasted the biggest name in junk food.
Now, Little Debbie Halvorson finds herself in the same situation. In March, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. clobbered her in the Democratic primary, 71 percent to 29 percent. But the Jacksons, who were as much a political institution as Hostess was a baking institution, have gone bust. Jesse Jr., Chicago’s own Twinkie the Kid, is out of politics. And that’s given Little Debbie a second chance to return to Congress. On Sunday, Halvorson announced her candidacy in the special election to replace Jackson, calling herself “the only candidate who could avoid freshman orientation and hit the ground running.”
If Halvorson can just hold on to the 29 percent she got against Jackson, she can probably win the primary against what looks to be a field full of every ambitious politician on the South Side.
In 2009, Rep. Mike Quigley won the primary to replace Rahm Emanuel with only 22 percent. But Halvorson may have yet another source of votes: Republicans. In March, 17,500 people voted in the 2nd District Republican primary. Presumably, most of them will vote in the Democratic primary this time around. Most of the Republicans live in the rural part of the district -- the part Halvorson represented in Congress from 2009 to 2011. Small towns and townships hold non-partisan municipal elections, so the Congressional primary will be the only partisan race on the ballot. And everybody knows it will decide the next congressman. Also, almost all Republicans are white, and Halvorson is the only white candidate who’s expressed interest in the seat. She was endorsed by the National Rifle Association in 2010, so that makes her good people to conservatives.
Halvorson would probably be defeated in the 2014 Democratic primary, and thus hold the seat for less than two years. But that would be enough for Little Debbie’s revenge.