There are 33 Democratic state senators (counting Independent James Meeks). With 36 Democratic state senators, the Democratic caucus could override a veto of the governor.
And that would shift things around quite a bit.
Right now, a lot of progressive ideas, especially a 5 percent income tax to invest in Illinois' future, get stifled because the governor is an opponent.
With a veto-proof majority in the Senate, that dynamic would lose a lot of steam.
And this isn't so inconceivable. Are there three seats that can flip from R to D in the next year?
How about the many open seats that moderate, intelligent Republicans are leaving?
Senator Dave Sullivan in Park Ridge (where the Jan Schakowsky organization has been growing) is a great example.
Senator Steve Rauschenberger (who has a blog of his own for his gubernatorial race here) represents an increasingly Latino district in Elgin. . .and Latinos like the D.
And the big Tier One target race is likely to be Rick Winkel, a thoughtful Republican in an increasingly-Democratic district (one of the two state reps earned 62% of the vote last time against a very good Republican opponent) where hard-charging Michael Frerichs, the Champaign County Auditor and another thoughtful public official, is considering a challenge to Winkel. (This would be a real showdown between two smart, shrewd, savvy politicos -- I was a student in Champaign when Rick Winkel rode the 1994 GOP sweep to the state House on a very-smart 'Save the Chief' campaign on campus).
And that's a veto-proof majority.
The House, with six more seats to pick up, looks a lot tougher. (There are 65 House Dems now, and 71 are needed for that veto-proof majority). But anything is possible. It will just be Governor Blagojevich at the top of the ticket (no U.S. Senate race, no presidential race), so if we Dems want to play to our strengths, we ought to be refining our message of what a Democratic state government has delivered for Illinois in the last four years -- higher wages and healthier people without a tax increase.
So if you'd like to build up a veto-proof majority, what are you waiting for? Get involved. Start practicing on your friends and family about why electing Democrats makes our lives better. We always have a more difficult message than Republicans. Practice. And convince people to vote for us -- either the people in your circle of friends and family or strangers in your precinct.