Mike Madigan, Speaker of the Illinois House, Chair of the Illinois Democratic Party and astute student of Illinois politics, endorsed Dan Hynes today. I guess that's expected (they are both Catholic southwest siders with a similar ideology and style), but it's a blow to my favorite candidate, Barack Obama.
There are a lot of people who would make for a good U.S. Senator in the Dem primary. Dan Hynes would be a cautious but fairly solid Senator. He'd be one of those Senators that doesn't have a national reputation, votes the right way on labor issues, and probably rolls over on war and civil liberties votes when the Bush/GOP machine gets in gear. Still, pretty good. Gery Chico would probably be an innovative Senator on federal funding for education (his T.I. idea is great), and I like his Infrastructure Bonds. He's a little more of an executive than a legislator, though, and like most of the candidates, would spend years trying to master the art of legislating. As the only Latino Senator, he would instantly have a national reputation, and I think he'd do fairly well. Blair Hull could be like Jon Corzine of New Jersey (who he apparently worked with): a super-rich liberal who knows financial markets and votes extremely well on most issues. And he'd probably get involved big-time with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and raise money for other Dem Senate candidates around the country. However, as he's never been a legislator, he'd have a really hard time with parliamentary procedure, especially if the Dems are in the minority. On Maria Pappas, I don't really understand her strategy. She's got a great-looking (but fairly content-free) website, though. I guess her Greek name, her gender, her good record as a reformer in Cook County all help, but why did she start so late? I don't understand that strategy at all. It's like she guarantees that she loses out on any significant institutional endorsements, and doesn't earn many endorsements from elected officials. (I keep a list of elected official endorsements here). If anyone has an idea why it is a good strategy to wait until four months before the primary to launch a campaign, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Which is why I'm supporting Barack Obama. He has mastered the art of legislation (not at all an easy thing to do). He'll be ready to pass legislation, even with a Republican Majority Leader. He'll be an excellent Senator on defense (something that the rules of the U.S. Senate disproportionately permit), putting holds on horrible federal judges and appointments, enthusiastically promoting the filibuster to roll back Republican momentum and taking every opportunity to slow down right-wing policies. He'll probably end up on the Judiciary Committee, and be a real player in shaping the U.S. Supreme Court (especially if Bush wins again -- oh, I hope that doesn't happen). He's great on protecting civil liberties, and he'll join Russ Feingold in fighting that battle (shaping up to be an ever-larger policy argument). And as the only black Senator, he'll have an instant national reputation.
In short, I think Barack Obama will be a great U.S. Senator. I think his opponents will largely be good U.S. Senators.