Monday, July 18, 2005

Lou Lang refuses to concede a status quo primary

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.


Anonymous said...

"The key point is to keep the Governor's Mansion blue. "

Why is this? Why isn't the key point to get a progressive in the governor's mansion? You've been a fair critic of the gov when he's let progressives down (as with his stubborn refusal to even consider tax hikes, despite endemic problems); why does that have to end as the election approaches?

I mean, what's more important?

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

I'm assuming (a fair assumption, I think), that a Dem governor will be far more progressive than a GOP governor, especially on raising wages.

respectful said...

Does "raising wages" refer to the minimum wage or to public employee contracts, or both?

Rod has done two things his GOP predecessors didn't: Hold the line on major tax hikes, and put the state burocracy on a serious diet. Throw in a few issues such as violent video games and he's got appeal to many Republican-leaning voters.

Ralph said...

And don't forget--Lou Lang won ten large on Jeopardy.

DownLeft said...

Vallas may have dominated the white Chicagoland vote. You may recall that Burris won the city.

What's going to happen in '06 during the primary and general election when those downstate numbers start rolling in? I can garauntee they won't be for Rod this time.

Did Rod have the support of both the mayor and the speaker when he won the primary in '02? Did Poshard? What's your basis for saying their support is necesary to win the primary. What if they stay nuetral?

What compelling story does Rod have to tell? That he shuffled some money around in the budget? I have a hard time believing anyone is going to be inspired by that. I don't know anyone who is overly impressed by that besides his campaign staff who are trying to sell half-assed accounting tricks as glorious accomplishments.

You can't campaign on the budget you passed when tens of thousands of state employees who had their pension fund shorted are bitter about it. Every time Rod opens his mouth to brag about that budget it makes more people who work for the largest employer in Illinois a little more angry. Not gonna work.

Yellow Dog Democrat said...

Why on God's green earth do we owe Rod a debt of gratitude? Rod didn't really win that campaign, Jm Ryan didn't run a campaign and the win really should go to George.

And if Rod hadn't run such a "disciplined, effective campaign", which is code for hoodwinking Southern Illinois, then Paul Vallas would be our Governor.

And I think it's fair to say right now that if Democrats knew Rod back then like they know him now, Paul Vallas would be our Governor. Well, Lou Lang may not be Paul Vallas, but I think he's the next best thing.

I also think it's fair to point out that $5 million is a high sum -- Glenn Poshard only spent $1.8 million in the primary to John Schmidt's $5.1 million.

Even if Rod is willing and able to spend $10 million on the primary, Lang only needs to spend $4 million to beat him.

And let's face it, the Mayor probably is not going to be helping Rod in the Primary, and neither is the Speaker.

I know what Rod's message will be, and we all know what Lou's will be. With $4 million to spend Lou should win.

Even if Dan's Doomsday scenerio comes to pass, given a choice of four years of Judy Barr Topinka or four more years of Rod running the Democratic Party into the ground, I'll take my chances on us beating Judy in 2010.

More of the same is not the answer.