The political fallout is calculated.
A gay marriage ban advisory referendum likely headed for the November ballot could boost turnout among conservatives in suburban congressional and downstate legislative races, but its impact on the governor’s race might only be marginal, political observers say.
Protect Marriage Illinois organizers turned in more than 345,000 signatures to state elections officials Monday, exceeding the 283,000 required to place a nonbinding statewide referendum on the fall ballot asking voters whether marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman. […]
“The accepted wisdom is that it’s the one thing that energizes the right wing,” said Chris Mooney, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield. “They’re turned off by both of the candidates. The referendum gets (conservatives) excited. It also gets the other side excited, but the other side aren’t as numerous.” […]
Where the gay marriage referendum could have impact is in the 6th and 8th District congressional races. In the 6th, Republican Peter Roskam of Wheaton supports the proposal while Democrat Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates opposes it. In the 8th District, Republican David McSweeney of Barrington Hills supports it. Democratic U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean of Barrington could not be reached Monday to say where she stands.
“It seriously could hurt (Democrats),” said Rick Garcia, executive director of Equality Illinois, a gay rights group. “It clearly helps Roskam, because he’s one of the (conservative movement’s) drum majors.”
What do you think of all this? If the referendum survives the challenge, will it impact the statewide and down-ballot races? Is this the sort of thing that Mehlman was talking about?