For over a century, the New York Times proclaimed
that it was the repository for “all the news
that’s fit to print.” This column prides
itself on voluminous political analysis, or 1,500
words per week. This week, with more analysis than
space, it’s print to fit. Here’s three
One: Democrats’ Downstate debacle gives
Republicans hope for 2014.
The most consequential, but largely ignored
political story of 2010 is the cultural and
ideological rejection of Democrats by Downstate
Illinoisans, and their embrace of the Republicans.
South of I-80 and west of Route 47, Democrats were
thrashed. Bill Brady, the hapless Republican
candidate for governor, won 98 of
’ 102 counties, and still lost by an official
Brady beat Pat Quinn (D) in the 5 collar counties
, Kane, DuPage, McHenry and Will), and won 93 of
96 Downstate counties. Outside of
, Brady beat Quinn by 468,719 votes; in
, Quinn trounced Brady by 500,533 votes.
In the 2010
congressional elections, Republicans gained 63
House seats, with 22 of that number from the
South. Of the South’s 145 districts, Republicans
now hold a 104-41 majority; of the Democrats, 15
are black, 5 Hispanic, and 21 white. Virtually
every Democrat is from an urban area. Rural white
Democrats are now extinct. Southerners saw the
face of the Democratic party as Barack Obama,
Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton, and
the policies of the Democrats as anti-gun,
pro-abortion, pro-gay, pro-tax and pro-spending
– and they rejected it.
That’s what happened in Downstate Illinois.
Downstaters saw the face of the state Democratic
party as Rod Blagojevich, Todd Stroger, Rich
Daley, Mike Madigan and Alexi Giannoulias, and
their legacy as corruption, cronyism, big-spending
liberalism, tax hikes, and a capitulation to
public sector unions – and they rejected it.
Culturally and ideologically, being a Democrat and
voting Democratic is now repugnant.
In the U.S. House, where Republicans now have a
240-195 majority, 104 of the Republicans – or 43
percent – are Southern conservatives. In the
Illinois House, where Democrats have a reduced
64-54 majority, 31 of the Republicans (58 percent)
are from Downstate, while just 12 of the Democrats
(19 percent) are from Downstate.
In November, Republicans ousted four Downstate
Democratic state representatives, including Jay
Hoffman, who was Blagojevich’s floor leader, and
won two open seats held by Democrats since the
1980s. Since the Civil War, the farming areas
have been heavily Democratic and socially
conservative; in the last century, union strength
East Saint Louis
has augmented the Democratic vote. But now, other
than the state’s southern tip, and
black-majority areas around
East Saint Louis
, the bulk of districts are now Republican. In
2010, Republicans won seats in
and its suburbs, the
East Saint Louis
suburbs, and the Quad Cities’ area.
For the Democrats, the obverse is occurring in the
suburbs. At present, of the 27 House members from
, 26 are Democrats, and 14 are minorities. Of the
27 suburban seats, Democrats hold 23. Every south
suburban district is held by a Democrat, as is
seat. Democrats won Beth Coulson’s (R) Glenview
district in 2010, but Republican David Harris beat
one-termer Mark Walker (D) in the
district. However, Republicans failed to regain
seats in the Schaumburg area, or in eastern
the collar counties, Republicans hold a 18-3
majority. Among the 12 Democratic Downstaters, two
are black; of the ten white incumbents, all are
sweating 2012. Obama will be atop the 2012 ticket,
and Downstate votes will be needed to pass any
income tax hike.
, as exemplified by state House members, are
dominated by Chicagoans, minorities and liberals.
Over the next several cycles, Republicans will
keep snaring Downstate seats, and they have few
seats to lose. In the 118-member House, 64 seats
– a majority – lie Downstate and in the collar
counties. If present trends continue, Republicans
will gain a majority.
Two: It’s not over until it’s over. Judicial
creativity will keep Rahm Emanuel on the
mayoral ballot. And he will be elected mayor.
This columnist, as the attorney for one of the
objectors to Emanuel’s candidacy, had the
opportunity to directly examine Emanuel on Dec. 14
at the city electoral board hearing. A Stipulation
entered by Emanuel’s lawyers conceded that he
and his family were “principally present” at a
rental home from June 30, 2009 to October 1, 2010.
I asked Emanuel whether “principally present”
meant that he “lived there” for that period.
Answer: Yes. I asked if he “resided there.”
His lawyers objected.
I asked if Emanuel was “principally present”
anywhere else. Answer: No.
The Chicago Municipal Code mandates that a
candidate is “not eligible” for municipal
office unless he/she is a “qualified elector”
– meaning voter – and has “resided” in
for one year prior to the Feb. 22, 2011 election.
Emanuel re-registered to vote and took up physical
754 N. Milwaukee Avenue
on Oct. 5, 2010. Under city ordinance, he needs to
prove “residence” since Feb. 22, 2010.
I asked Emanuel, who was the White House
chief-of-staff, how many times he was physically
from February to September 2010. Answer: Twice. He
said he flew in for a political event, and stayed
overnight at a hotel.
Emanuel, of course, rented his Ravenswood home for
a year from Sept. 1, 2009, and extended the lease
to June 30, 2011. Had he kept the home vacant, and
his belongings present, Emanuel would not have
this “residency” problem
But Emanuel is the sole remaining white
candidate on the 2011 ballot, and a phalanx of
political insiders have a vested interest in his
election. They cleared out the white field for
Emanuel, and don’t relish the prospect of a
Hispanic or black mayor. The electoral board
decision will be appealed by the loser to the
Circuit Court, and by that loser to the Illinois
Judges can fit the law to the facts, and ignore
the facts as they relate to the law. When Emanuel
voted by absentee ballot in the 2010 primary, he
did so from his rented home, where he clearly did
not reside. A city statute states that if one has
“lost his residence” due to “business of the
United States,” then his vote is valid. Emanuel
was not in the U.S. military. He was a political
appointee of the president.
My prediction: The Illinois Supreme Court has a
4-3 Democratic majority. Expect a ruling that
Emanuel’s non-residence was due to federal
“business,” akin to military service, and that
he is entitled to ballot placement. When that
occurs, the election is over. Emanuel will be the
Number Three: Welcome to the 2014 governor’s
race, which began on Nov. 3. If “creativity”
defines the Chicago mayoral situation,
“toxicity” will characterize the 2014 contest.
According to official returns, Quinn beat Brady by
1,745,219-1,713,385, in a turnout of 3.6 million.
In 2006, Blagojevich won by 1,736,731-1,369,315,
in a 3.5 million turnout. So, despite the trauma
of Blagojevich’s impeachment, and Quinn’s tax
increase promise, Quinn got more votes than his
this: Within a year, massive “Quinn fatigue”
will surface. From fiscal 2010, the state owes
over $4.5 billion to vendors, and will be indebted
for a like amount when fiscal 2011 concludes next
June. Illinois’ revenue shortfall is projected
to be $13 billion, in a $55 billion budget. A one
percent hike in the state income tax generates $3
billion. Hikes and cuts will be necessary
that will present a delicious spectacle: Speaker
Madigan cherished dream is to make his daughter,
Attorney General Lisa Madigan, governor in 2014.
And that presents a quandary. The presumed
strategy was to elect Quinn, let him take the rap
for tax hikes, and shove him out the door in 2014
after Illinois’ economy rebounds and revenues
are flush, and install Lisa Madigan.
means Madigan’s House will have to enact a tax
hike, jeopardizing Downstaters in 2012, and
precipitating two lose-lose scenarios: If
Quinn’s policies are successful, then either
Quinn or incoming lieutenant governor Sheila Simon
will run for governor in 2014, undermining Lisa
Madigan’s chances. If chaos and fiscal
catastrophe ensues, and Obama is still in the
White House, then a Republican is certain to win
Republicans’ 2014 strategy is simple: Let
Democrats fix it. Speaker Madigan insists that
Republicans “sign on” to any tax increase, and
provide votes. They won’t.
prediction: By 2014, Quinn will be toxic. Simon,
, will run to succeed him, setting up a nasty
primary with Lisa Madigan. If Speaker Madigan in
any way impedes Quinn, Democratic liberals will
take their vengeance on Lisa Madigan. Democrats
will be divided, and voters ready for change. The
Republican nominee will be incoming state
treasurer Dan Rutherford, a Downstater.