Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Why Joe Walsh Might Win the 8th

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    NEWSLETTERS

    It ispossible that Rep. Joe Walsh, Tea Party-Ill., will hold on to his seat.

    A poll conducted this week by We Ask America has him leading challenger Tammy Duckworth, 47.8 percent to 45.1 percent. (The previous poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling in late September, had Duckworth ahead, 52-38.)

    This is not supposed to happen. House Speaker Michael Madigan drew this seat not just for a Democrat, but specifically for Duckworth. One of the reasons Duckworth lost to Peter Roskam in 2006 was that she didn’t live in the district, and was unwilling to move, because her house had been modified to accommodate her disability. The house is in the new 8th District. After that defeat, Gov. Rod Blagojevich and President Obama helped her build a resume. Blagojevich appointed Duckworth head of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. Obama named her Assistant Secretary for Veterans Affairs.

    With the help of her mentors, Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Duckworth has raised five times as much money as Walsh. Walsh also helped Duckworth raise money by saying she wasn’t a “true hero” because she bragged about her military service. Duckworth was given a prime-time speaking spot at the Democratic National Convention, where delegates were in tears as she talked her rescue from the wreckage of a Black Hawk helicopter.

    So how can Duckworth possibly lose? Well, maybe for all of the above reasons. Walsh’s party wants nothing to do with him. The congressman skipped the Republican National Convention, and after at first stiffing him, the National Republican Campaign Committee finally agreed to a $500,000 ad buy this month, when it looked as though he might have a chance to win. But that lack of support has played into Walsh’s argument that he’s an independent, while Duckworth is a partisan D.C. Democrat. Even though he’s the insider, he’s running as the outsider. Walsh has declared that he’s a Tea Partier before he’s a Republican. In their first debate, he came off as fiscally responsible, while she looked like an advocate for liberal special interests. Because he has no support from national Republicans, Walsh has done all his campaigning inside the district, while Duckworth flew to Charlotte and made a speech at a college in California. In a congressional election, face-to-face campaigning can be everything.

    Duckworth’s numbers may also have been hurt by President Obama’s lousy debate performance. It turned independents toward Romney, and the suburbs are full of independents.

    Walsh is a shameless, sexist, racist, creedist, colorist, national originist political bully who will do and say anything to win. He poked Duckworth during their sit-down debate and criticized her for spending too much time picking out a dress to wear to the convention. (Those gals take forever to get dressed. Huh, huh, huh.) Maybe Duckworth needs to stop campaigning as the reasonable, responsible candidate, and start calling Walsh a deadbeat dad. You know what happens to politicians who’ll do anything to win? They win. And do you know what happens to two-time political losers? They never run again.
          
     

     

    This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $9.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.