Blago Drama Awakens State Republicans

Illinois has turned deep blue in recent years

Gov. Rod Blagojevich has done something few in Illinois thought possible, particularly in the Age of Obama: He's awakened state Republicans from their coma.

The Illinois GOP, given up for dead as the state turned deep blue in recent years, has reacted in an unusually nimble manner to the arrest of the state's top Democrat - with a focused, familiar message.

"Had enough of corrupt politicians like Rod Blagojevich?" said an ad the party turned around quickly in the wake of Blago's arrest and placed on Rich Miller's Capitol Fax Blog. "IT'S TIME FOR A CHANGE."

State Republicans are also pressing the phrase "Blagojevich Democrats," which doesn't exactly roll off the tongue like, say, Reagan Democrats. But it's theme is consistent, from a new website called, which touts that "Blagojevich Democrats are all part of the same tainted web in Illinois," to what Politicodescribes as "a statewide television advertising blitz" demanding a special election to fill Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat that also rides the Blagojevich Democrats theme.

"Blagojevich Democrats said they'd support a special election," a voice in the ad intones over images of Dick Durbin, Mike Madigan and Emil Jones, "and went back on their word."

Even the Chicago GOP - yes, there is such a thing - sent out a recruitment e-mail under the heading, "Join the party for the post-Blagojevich era!"

All of this also explains why more state Republicans than state Democrats have opposed commuting George Ryan's sentence. After all, you can't very well position yourself as the party of reform while extending a hand to the guy who nearly killed you off in the first place.

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