This is exactly right…
The unintended byproduct of Illinois moving up its primary to boost White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is putting the state in major play for the GOP presidential candidates.
“It really is wide open on the Republican side,” said Illinois Republican Party chairman Andy McKenna. “It’s ironic,” he said. “A move to help Obama helps the Republican Party.'’
When Gov. Blagojevich signs the legislation setting Feb. 5 as the primary date, switching from March, Illinois joins more than 20 other states holding elections that day, creating a new national primary. While Obama has a near lock on Illinois, the three top Republican contenders — former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) — see Illinois as fertile territory and are establishing statewide campaigns.
In order to draw attention to Illinois, McKenna said the party is considering organizing a straw poll on Aug. 16, five days after the influential Aug. 11 Iowa Republican party straw poll.
Illinois may also steal some serious thunder from Iowa and New Hampshire’s Republican contests because early voting will begin here just after New Year’s Day - before anyone in those two goofy states cast a ballot. Hillary Clinton is most likely taking a pass on Illinois, of course, but her campaign is gearing up to focus on early voting opportunities in other big states, so there is a belief that the Republicans will do the same with Illinois…
Tucked away in a Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign memorandum that leaked out this week was a brief note about a quirk in next year’s primary election calendar that could have a profound effect on the strategies and spending of all the candidates.
The memorandum, by Mike Henry, the deputy campaign manager for Mrs. Clinton, made a case for ignoring Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses next Jan. 14 and devoting the candidate’s limited time and resources to contests in much bigger states in the following three weeks, including Florida, Arizona, California, New Jersey, Georgia and Texas.
Mr. Henry noted that all of those states, and several others whose primaries are set for early February, will be mailing out millions of absentee ballots in the weeks before Iowans gather for their caucuses, potentially diminishing Iowa’s importance. Iowa, along with New Hampshire, which holds its primary a week after the Iowa caucuses, have jealously guarded their status as early arbiters of who’s hot and who’s not.