FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
I have a radical suggestion about Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s vacated IL-02 seat.
Now that he’s resigned it… how’s about trying to, maybe, I don’t know: win it?
Hold on, hear me out. Let’s jump back for a second to 2009. You might remember that in 2009 Rahm Emanuel resigned his House seat (IL-05) in order to bungle being White House Chief of Staff. Well, that caused a special election to trigger, and at the time I took the position that hey, how’s about trying to, maybe, I don’t know: win it? …And I was told, quietly but firmly, no. Folks didn’t like the candidate, didn’t like the idea of spending the money, didn’t want to contest the seat. And that’s fine; but here’s the thing. The Democrat who won (Mike Quigley) the primary was cordially hated by the rest of the Illinois Combine, and the general election he beat Rosanna Pulido, 30.6K to 10.6K. Two years later, Quigley’s opponent David Ratowitz got 38.9 K votes in the 2010 general election. Didn’t matter then, because Quigley got 108.3K votes… but it shows that there were in fact enough potential Republican voters in the IL-05 to win a low-turnout special election, if sufficiently motivated.
Now, let’s look at IL-02. In the last election Jackson got 181K votes to Brian Woodworth’s 67.4K. But Jesse Jackson’s quitting in, frankly, disgrace: and there’s going to be a vicious internal Democratic fight for his seat; and it’s a special election, which means low turnout. If the GOP does nothing, none of that will matter. If the GOP decides to make the Democrats work for the seat… it still may not matter. But… then again, it might. We won’t know until we actually try. What we do know is that doing nothing doesn’t work*.
All of which leads up to the observation that if anybody reading this has a clever plan about how to boost turnout in traditionally unfriendly districts, then there’s going to be a Republican campaign in Illinois in the very near future that is probably going to want to hear from you.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*I remember reading somewhere that the way that Massachusetts was taken away from the Republicans was by the Democrats making sure that they were always running a candidate in every relevant election; they’d just wait for a Republican to screw up, retire, or quit. Takes a while, but it works.