All is quiet on the March 2006 Democratic primary front. Lisa Madigan, Dan Hynes, Jesse White, Pat Quinn and Rod Blagojevich all seem perfectly content to run for re-election, and no serious current of dissent seems likely to knock any of them from their constitutional office.
Except for a breeze from the far North Side of Chicago from Representative Lou Lang.
Representative Lang never took a shine to Governor Blagojevich. A fierce partisan (which is a high compliment), Representative Lang was the only elected official to stand up with Paul Vallas at his north side victory party in March 2002 during those heady two hours after 7 pm when he led the returns before Downstate results came in (remember, Vallas dominated Chicagoland in the Dem primary). Lang knows that schools need more funds in order to buy better futures for poor kids, and he believed that a gambling package is the surest way to turn on the school spigot. He was left high and dry by Governor Blagojevich early in the 2003 session, and Lang believes that Governor Blagojevich has been a disappointment.
However, a candidate for Governor in a Democratic primary needs three ingredients: the Speaker, the Mayor and $5 million. I'd guess that neither Speaker Madigan nor Mayor Daley are inclined to support a challenger in the primary, but I won't count Lou Lang out.
The key point is to keep the Governor's Mansion blue. Rod Blagojevich has earned a debt of gratitude from Illinois Democrats for running a disciplined, effective campaign in 2002 to break a 25 year GOP lock on the mansion. That was not an easy thing to do, even with all the weaknesses of a Jim Ryan campaign. If far sharper and sophisticated minds than mine calculate that Governor Blagojevich can't win a re-election campaign, a switch to a challenger like Lou Lang in November or early December is a possibility. It's a very remote possibility, however, because the Blagojevich re-election campaign has a compelling story to tell about the Democratic Party delivering for Illinois over the last three years.
I just hope that 2005 marked the end of the mini-triangulation strategy that Governor Blagojevich used in his first two years (differentiating himself from the 'bad guys' of the Democratic General Assembly and the 'bad guys' of the Republican Party, just as Clinton did to position himself in 1996 between the 'bad' elements of the Democratic Party and the 'bad' Republican Party'). Because I suspect that in November 2006, we Democrats are all going to sink or swim together.