Is Durbin in Danger?

As Republicans contemplate the possible size of their November victory, outlier races may get interesting.  Scott Brown, a few weeks ago considered certain to lose, may well win in New Hampshire.  Most folks would not have thought that Republican Terri Land had a chance in a blue state like Michigan, but she continues to run close to Peters in the race.  Al Franken also cannot pull away in his re-election fight, and all the polls show that race tightening.

Surely the trophy in any general election is for one party to knock off a legislative leader of the other party.  Speaker Foley lost in 1994 in a relatively swing Washington district.  Democrat Floor Leader Tom Daschle lost in 2004 in a very red South Dakota against Thune, a very good Republican candidate.  Even Harry Reid faced a fight in Nevada, something of a swing state still, in 2010.

The Chicago Sun Times, according to a poll released on September 1, shows that Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, the second-highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, may be in serious trouble in Illinois, a solidly blue state.  The poll shows that Durbin is only seven points ahead of Republican Jim Oberweis.  More troubling for Durbin, this establishment Democrat boss in a Democrat state polls only 47% of the vote, well below the 50% margin usually considered healthy for incumbents.  Even worse for Durbin, the Libertarian candidate, Sharon Hansen, polls over 4% of the vote so that Durbin, if Oberweis woos those voters to his right, polls only two points behind Durbin.

Durbin’s problems are aggravated by a deep and wide malaise among Illinois Democrats.  Governor Quinn is losing his battle for re-election, and the polls show increasingly that this race will likely become a Republican landslide.  Quinn's administration is generally considered a flop.

Mayor Emanuel in Chicago is not threatened by any Republican, but he well might lose reelection to Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers' Union – largely because the mayor seems largely disconnected from ordinary Chicago voters.  The Chicago machine, which cares more about the mayoral race than any other, is distracted and divided.

Obama remains relatively popular in Illinois, but he is not on the ballot – he will never be again – and so his ability to get voters to the polls seems limited.  All of that assumes that our very bored president even cares much about this election.

On August 31, Bishop Larry Trotter of the huge Sweet Holy Spirit Church of south Chicago endorsed Oberweis.  Another prominent black pastor in Chicago, Pastor Corey Brooks, Sr., of New Beginnings Church of Chicago, has already endorsed Oberweis over Durbin.  While Oberweis is probably not going to win the black vote in Chicago – indeed, he will probably not come close to winning it – Oberweis could well beat Durbin if black voters simply do not turn out in large numbers for Durbin.

Oberweis has run for office before, so he is not unknown to Illinois voters.  He is a multimillionaire whose campaign will not lose by being hopelessly outspent.  The two will meet for at least one televised debate before the election (Oberweis wants seven debates, but Durbin has agreed to only one.)  Durbin is well-known in Washington politics as a very arrogant man – the man in 2005 who compared American soldiers in combat to Nazis and Pol Pot.  If this side of him comes out during the televised debates, that could not only switch voters from him to Oberweis, but also turn off Illinois Democrat voters even more, who look with disgust at Governor Quinn and with dismay at Mayor Emanuel, both of whom are campaigning now. 

Oberweis is a conservative who spent nearly all his adult life in business and not in politics.  His positions on issues ought not to offend anyone on the right.  Conservatives ought to rally behind Oberweis, even if that means for this one election voting for the Republican nominee, who can well win, and not the Libertarian candidate, who cannot win this race.  Durbin, a career politician (unlike Oberweis), personifies everything wrong with Washington.  If Durbin loses – and we ought to do everything we can to see that he does – it will send major shockwaves through the political establishment.  And it could well trigger the political revolution we know our nation needs.

As Republicans contemplate the possible size of their November victory, outlier races may get interesting.  Scott Brown, a few weeks ago considered certain to lose, may well win in New Hampshire.  Most folks would not have thought that Republican Terri Land had a chance in a blue state like Michigan, but she continues to run close to Peters in the race.  Al Franken also cannot pull away in his re-election fight, and all the polls show that race tightening.

Surely the trophy in any general election is for one party to knock off a legislative leader of the other party.  Speaker Foley lost in 1994 in a relatively swing Washington district.  Democrat Floor Leader Tom Daschle lost in 2004 in a very red South Dakota against Thune, a very good Republican candidate.  Even Harry Reid faced a fight in Nevada, something of a swing state still, in 2010.

The Chicago Sun Times, according to a poll released on September 1, shows that Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, the second-highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, may be in serious trouble in Illinois, a solidly blue state.  The poll shows that Durbin is only seven points ahead of Republican Jim Oberweis.  More troubling for Durbin, this establishment Democrat boss in a Democrat state polls only 47% of the vote, well below the 50% margin usually considered healthy for incumbents.  Even worse for Durbin, the Libertarian candidate, Sharon Hansen, polls over 4% of the vote so that Durbin, if Oberweis woos those voters to his right, polls only two points behind Durbin.

Durbin’s problems are aggravated by a deep and wide malaise among Illinois Democrats.  Governor Quinn is losing his battle for re-election, and the polls show increasingly that this race will likely become a Republican landslide.  Quinn's administration is generally considered a flop.

Mayor Emanuel in Chicago is not threatened by any Republican, but he well might lose reelection to Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers' Union – largely because the mayor seems largely disconnected from ordinary Chicago voters.  The Chicago machine, which cares more about the mayoral race than any other, is distracted and divided.

Obama remains relatively popular in Illinois, but he is not on the ballot – he will never be again – and so his ability to get voters to the polls seems limited.  All of that assumes that our very bored president even cares much about this election.

On August 31, Bishop Larry Trotter of the huge Sweet Holy Spirit Church of south Chicago endorsed Oberweis.  Another prominent black pastor in Chicago, Pastor Corey Brooks, Sr., of New Beginnings Church of Chicago, has already endorsed Oberweis over Durbin.  While Oberweis is probably not going to win the black vote in Chicago – indeed, he will probably not come close to winning it – Oberweis could well beat Durbin if black voters simply do not turn out in large numbers for Durbin.

Oberweis has run for office before, so he is not unknown to Illinois voters.  He is a multimillionaire whose campaign will not lose by being hopelessly outspent.  The two will meet for at least one televised debate before the election (Oberweis wants seven debates, but Durbin has agreed to only one.)  Durbin is well-known in Washington politics as a very arrogant man – the man in 2005 who compared American soldiers in combat to Nazis and Pol Pot.  If this side of him comes out during the televised debates, that could not only switch voters from him to Oberweis, but also turn off Illinois Democrat voters even more, who look with disgust at Governor Quinn and with dismay at Mayor Emanuel, both of whom are campaigning now. 

Oberweis is a conservative who spent nearly all his adult life in business and not in politics.  His positions on issues ought not to offend anyone on the right.  Conservatives ought to rally behind Oberweis, even if that means for this one election voting for the Republican nominee, who can well win, and not the Libertarian candidate, who cannot win this race.  Durbin, a career politician (unlike Oberweis), personifies everything wrong with Washington.  If Durbin loses – and we ought to do everything we can to see that he does – it will send major shockwaves through the political establishment.  And it could well trigger the political revolution we know our nation needs.