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Obamarama - Putting the GOPs in play here

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - Posted by Rich Miller

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.



  1. - The Conservative - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 8:47 am:

    The only one that might gain in the GOP primary would be Mitt Romney, Rudy and McCain are not in the Conservatives interest at all. I agree the GOP is wide open. Perhaps some of the second level less known candidates might emerge.

  2. - so-called "Austin Mayor" - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 8:54 am:

    “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.”

    I question whether this was an “unintended” consequence. I suspect that this significance boost for the IL-GOP was the carrot that got Republican votes for the date change.

    – SCAM

  3. - fedup dem - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 9:04 am:

    Rich, if you think that moving the primary to Feb. 5 will put Illinois into play for the hapless Republicans, you have been out in the sun a bit too long!

  4. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 9:49 am:

    Technically, the GOP will be playing in Illinois, not putting it “in play.”

    I think the major consequence is that oodles of Independents will be drawn into the Democratic primary to vote for Obama. This will be especially true in African American precincts in Cook County, where you can bet that Congressman Jackson and others will try to use the turn-out surge to turn out some incumbent Democrats.

  5. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 9:52 am:

    Obama has the Democratic nod here in Illinois. We all know this - so there will be a heavy cross over for Giuliani overwhelming the normally conservative Illinois GOP.

  6. - anon - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 10:04 am:

    Pretty soon - and I’m not saying this will happen for 08 - all of the states will have their primary on Jan. 1. What’s to stop them?

  7. - i d - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 11:03 am:

    Being a very independent downstater, I have yet to find “my” candidate in either party. I do wish that Ralph Nader and other disrupters just stay the hell out of the field and leave the votes for serious candidates.

  8. - GOP'er - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 11:31 am:

    So we vote on the same day as 19 other states, and after some other states, including one big one, Florida. Ooooo, we’re really special.

    McKenna is both delusional and dishonest. Recall that he and his friends had once talked about moving our primary up to the last week of January. But he tries to “blame” the Dems for the Feb 5th date? What a buffoon.

    And who jabs the other side for picking an earlier date, and then in the same sentence talks about how wonderful it is. Something is seriously wrong with this guy.

  9. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 11:57 am:

    GOP’er, I agree. McKenna is bad for our party.

    I don’t think he’s delusional, though. It could make the main three GOP contenders somewhat interested in Illinois. This especially holds true for Rudy, who could easily capitalize if some clever campaigning and strategy is employed north of I-80. If anything, at least the GOP race won’t be decided by the time any red voters would have gone to the polls in mid-March.

  10. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 1:14 pm:

    Funny, all along I’ve believed the biggest missed consequence is letting R legislators get past their primaries very early, so they’re not quite so hamstrung in the spring session.

  11. - Bill Baar - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 1:32 pm:

    I think the major consequence is that oodles of Independents will be drawn into the Democratic primary to vote for Obama.

    Why? Obama’s win a given. The GOP contest will be very more interesting. A vote for Obama is historic but just about everyone who votes in Illinois has voted for him…including me.

    The GOP contest will be the interesting one and if you want to cast a vote with some potential consequence e.g. Giuliani as the GOP standard bearer, or for the first Mormon, or for a McCain who’s given much for this country…. the GOP contest will be where it is.

  12. - Dieter - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 1:46 pm:

    So far, not much has been done by GOP candidates in IL, except trying to raise money. If IL were in play, they would be thinking about setting up offices here June 1. I haven’t seen it yet, anyone else?

    As far as McKenna’s concerned, I don’t know if he’s delusional, but he certainly lacks leadership. He hasn’t come close to raising the money everyone though he would and he’s far from being telegenic.

    At the same time, the party has done little to re-unite factions and recruit candidates that can win.

    Until there’s a change at the helm, it will be status quo.

  13. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 3:24 pm:

    Dieter, Rudy has an executive director and a field coordinator. He obviously is taking Illinois seriously (enough) to sink some cash into his ops.

  14. - Levois - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 4:15 pm:

    Hmm why does Rich call Iowa and New Hampshire goofy?

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