It strikes me that Jim Edgar has at least one good point: there isn't a compelling reason for a presumptive nominee to decide whether to run for office in August, a full 14 months before the general election. That's a fairly dumb way to choose our leaders, forcing all of us to lock in our choices well before the actual election -- and before the fourth year of session even begins! Why are we spending so much time and energy on the 2006 election in the summer of 2005? These campaigns are far too long.
If we moved our March primary up to June (or even got radical and followed Minnesota's lead and moved the primary to September), then the filing deadline for the primary would be moved up to March or July (respectively) of 2006. And then Edgar's decision (and everyone's decision) would wait until a few months before that date. That would shorten campaigns and allow more attention to be paid to governing. I think that would be a good thing.
I do think that the aura of invincibility around Jim Edgar is more memory than actual current strength. It's not like Dawn Clark Netsch ran an aggressive campaign against Edgar in 1994. I remember her appearance at the University of Illinois, and her detached, bemused intelligence did not really resonate with the college crowd. Rod Blagojevich's campaign will be sharp, disciplined and effective, and the unity expressed at Democrat Day is real. I predict a full and successful effort to re-elect a Democratic governor. He might be a little frustrating to legislators at times, but he signs just about every good bill that the General Assembly passes -- and there are a ton of those great bills. That's the main thing.