Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried. – Winston Churchill
With (most of) the electoral smoke having cleared and some space to ruminate on the results, it’s time to consider what the voters told us at the end of this generally insane election cycle, particularly at the state and local level.
Not to give away too much too soon, but I think the keyword here is “transitions.” So, without further ado, let’s get started on what will likely become a three-part series.
1. Governor/Attorney General
Though it was hardly the 20-point rout the pundits predicted, Governor Pointless and Attorney General Kwame Raoul easily prevailed over lackluster loony Republican candidates Darren Bailey and Tom DeVore by 10 points.
In late June I predicted our not-so-dynamic duo would actually defeat the incumbents, but in a case of my swiftest forecast reversal ever, I rescinded it less than a week later after Bailey’s bizarrely tone-deaf response to the July 4th Highland Park shootings. A third grader could’ve issued a better statement.
Tom DeVore’s initial slew of second-grade social media posts didn’t help the Republican cause, either. If you’re gonna behave like the Grand Cheeto you better have his charisma, and “charisma” is not a word I’d ever apply to Mr. DeVore.
As long as Illinois Republican primary voters persist in electing MAGA and other extreme candidates, the Springfield Democratic supermajority will plague the state for decades to come. There was a time when those voters nominated decent gubernatorial candidates who could win general elections like Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar, but those days are long gone.
To be fair to the GOP, it would’ve been different had billionaire Ken Griffin not insisted on inserting, a candidate more flawed than Rod Blagojevich, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, into the race. Once Irvin’s liberal and pathological lying tendencies were fully exposed by the Chicago Tribune those revelations pushed the Republican base towards what would typically be dismissed as disposable fringe candidates.
I’m going to keep on saying it! How could Griffin’s people anoint and spend $50 million on a candidate who wasn’t fully vetted? All Ken had to do is read my columns!
As long as GOP primary voters elect extremists who have no shot, and moderate Republicans refuse to vote in primaries, the Democrats will take advantage of this self-defeating feedback loop to relegate statewide Republican candidates to a mere afterthought. And the comptroller, treasurer, and secretary of state races, which the Dems won by 15, 9, and 9 points respectively, prove that point beyond any reasonable doubt.
To make matters so much worse for the Party of Lincoln, Darth Madigan may be a shadow of his former self, but his campaign blueprint remains firmly ensconced in the hands of the Illinois Democratic Central Committee making it that much more difficult for them to win.
Think about it! Dan Brady and Tom Demmer lost by 9 points to Alexi Giannoulias and Michael Frerichs. If the fractious Illinois GOP could stop bickering among themselves long enough to develop a real ground game, they might actually be competitive.
To absolutely no one’s surprise, Tammy Duckworth retained her U.S. Senate seat, and other than incumbent Sean Casten beating Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau by 8 full points in the 6th, there weren’t any congressional surprises. And Pekau is taking his defeat so well, too!
Casten’s easy victory is yetanother indication of the increasing blue tide that’s beset that once deep red bastion of DuPage County. Had you told me that DuPage would go blue before the other Collar Counties back when I started writing for the Tri-Cities Suns in 2006, I would’ve laughed in your face. But here we are.
Raja won the 8th and will hold that seat as long as he wants it. Why any Republican would waste their time running against Jan Schakowski in the 9th district is beyond me. To call a 41 percent rain of destruction a “victory” would be the mildest of understatements.
In what was clearly the largest IQ disparity between two candidates, Bill Foster destroyed perennial candidate Catalina Lauf by 12 points in the 11th. Any reasonable Republican candidate would’ve had a shot, but while scientist Foster is a master of electoral statistics, Lauf thinks the ERA has something to do with football games.
She certainly didn’t help herself by foolishly posing for that 2020 campaign shot with the variety of assault rifle that was used in the Highland Park mass shooting. She had no clue how to hold the weapon, either.
Enduring three lopsided losses and a laughable 31 percent plurality primary win would typically mean the end of a candidate, but as long as her daddy continues to finance her campaigns, just like a bad Bond villain, she’ll be back to torment us in 2024. With Trumpism rapidly fading, she’ll lose by an even larger margin.
To round it out, Lauren Underwood shrugged off marginal Republican candidate Scott Gryder by 9 points in the 14th. Did Scott even bother to campaign?
3. General Assembly
Unless you consider Kevin Wallace doing far better against 49th district incumbent Maura than anyone thought he would, there weren’t any surprises here, either. Virtually every incumbent who ran retained their seat.
Dan Ugaste beat upstart Dem candidate and scientist Linda Roberston who proved that intelligence doesn’t necessarily translate into electoral – or any form of – common sense. She barely ran a campaign, her only mailer was terrible, and she claimed she threw her hat in the ring because “Ugaste should have an opponent,” which isn’t a good reason to run. Then she went on to screw up her nominating paperwork.
Despite the First Ward’s best effort, incumbent state rep Keith Wheeler lost to corrupt Madigan Democrat Matt Hanson. That means the people of the 83rd essentially voted for another Illinois tax hike. I understand how the sentiment against Roe v. Wade being overturned worked against Illinois Republicans, but as former Kane County auditor Terry Hunt and I discussed, abortion rights are not at risk in Illinois. And voting straight Democratic in state that’s has the highest taxes in the nation is only going to make it worse.
So, one of our best legislators is being replaced by one who will likely be our worst. When you add a hugely gerrymandered district to the Dem central committee pouring around half-a-million late dollars into a campaign, this is the kind of BS you get. I hope Keith finds the backing to run for governor next round.
If we’re ever going to truly pull back from the fiscal abyss, we need some semblance of political balance in this state. But the surest sign that ain’t gonna happen is the lack of competition in the state senate contests. Of the 59 seats up this year, only 26 districts could boast a contested race.
Incumbent Republican Dan McConchie barely held on against challenger Maria Peterson in the still red 26th by less than 1 percent of the vote, which, with the blue Collar County tide rising, doesn’t bode well for his political future.
In another sign of the Illinois GOP’s vast dysfunction, Karina Villa won the 25th against Heather Brown by a whopping 17 percent. Particularly when you consider her arrogance, mediocre IQ, and bullying propensities, it’s patently absurd that the Republicans can’t mount any kind of challenge in a district that Chris Lauzen regularly won by 40 points.
It’s called running a reasonable candidate with a reasonable campaign strategy.
That’s it for today. Part two will hit the virtual presses on Thursday!