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Joe Walsh finally did something that’s good for someone other than Joe Walsh. Although, being Joe Walsh, he did it in the most self-centered, self-aggrandizing way possible.
During a Chicago Tea Party meeting at the Cubby Bear in Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood, Walsh announced he’ll be running for re-election in the 8th Congressional District -- not in the 14th District, against fellow Republican incumbent Randy Hultgren.
Walsh chose to do it in Chicago to increase both the media suspense over his decision, and to make it easier for that same media to cover his announcement.
“While I was encouraged by the enthusiasm I received from folks all across the 14th district, I felt at this time, with this unjust map, I had to stand up and fight,” Walsh said. “The idea of ceding this seat to the Democrats just felt wrong and someone needed to step up to the challenge.”
Walsh doesn’t live in the 8th District, but that’s not his fault. It’s the fault of Michael Madigan and House Democrats who were determined to separate as many Republican congressmen as possible from the voters who elected them. Whatever you think of Walsh’s politics, he represents a point of view held by a not insignificant portion of the electorate.
The voters of the 8th District will be better served by an eight-month-long debate between a Democrat and a conservative Republican than by a Democrat cruising to victory in November. Walsh’s skill at getting media coverage will ensure that his Tea Party message is heard in the 8th District and beyond.
Will he win? Probably not.
Walsh would have had a tough time winning even if his district hadn’t been redrawn. In 2010, a Republican year, he barely beat Melissa Bean, a Democratic incumbent who didn’t campaign hard.
In 2012, Obama supporters who skipped the midterm election may come back and help push the Dems over. And some people who voted for the unknown Walsh as a protest against Obama’s policies must be uncomfortable with the known Walsh, who has been taken to court for $117,000 in child support, and blows up at constituents during town hall meetings.
It’s a kamikaze mission for Walsh, but it will be an exciting spectacle.
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