Illionis' primary is long gone, so it is safe to start looking at the general election. I live in IL's 14th (formerly known as Speaker Hastert's), and I thought I'd put out an update for anyone interested, and to force myself to update my research. Nothing makes me read up on the state of things like writing does. I will spend the most time in the first couple statewide races, and most of the factors in those can be assumed in play for the House races. Btw, Blagojevich's book publisher failed.
Illinois Senate: Mark Kirk
I think conservatives and moderates are fighting less in IL this cycle, which is good for moderates like Kirk. In the past the different wings of the party might have cannibalized each other statewide. Kirk will win the suburban Republicans, most Independents, and some Dems. And, this cycle, most conservatives will go vote for him even if they have to hold their nose. Probably.
Why? I think IL conservatives have been burned too many times in the past by by bad statewide candidates, and they aren't going to ignore a half-way decent candidate this time. Not when they're embarrassed about Blago and his ongoing indictment. Not when they're ticked off by Gov Quinn's repeated attempts at raising taxes. Not when Alexi is flopping so bad. Oh, you haven't heard of Alexi's troubles? Go read Big Government about it. Or even the Chicago Tribune.
Conservatives (and many, many others) are fully aware of how horribly the super majority Democratic legislature has messed up our finances. Need I mention conservatives are livid about Obama's spending, too? The recession has made Illinois' push-off-the-problem, refuse-to-deal-with-reality budgets all come to a head. Democrats own that.
Couple more points:
1. The tea party's passion is going to get more people moving to the polls--having your base stirred up is a good thing.
2. Few of these impassioned voters are going to pass on claiming Obama's seat, even though many might not normally be motivated by someone like Kirk. It is practically a chance to vote against Obama--too tantalizing to pass on. Neil ties this in with Castle vs. Biden's seat.
3. There are several local and congressional candidates that conservatives and tea party folks are a little more enthusiastic about, which gives them more reason to stay motivated. It also takes some of the sting out of having to vote for Kirk. Seriously, having even one candidate you are excited about makes a difference when having to vote for several you are not that thrilled with.
4. Kirk (site: here) is moderate, but he is no Charlie Crist. He hasn't been blinded by ambition, ignoring his job, and looking for the next best thing. He has been faithfully representing his lean-D district. He is also a solid fundraiser and a seasoned campaigner. He made it through 2006 and 2008.
Right now Rasmussen has Kirk 46%, Giannoulias 38th. It might be tough to maintain that, especially if Obama comes home to campaign. Or who knows, maybe that will help Kirk? Obama took the state with 61.6% in 2008, but its conservatives and libertarians that are more stirred up...a visit may remind them why.
Governor: Bill Brady
Mostly positive news for conservatives here--Brady is running as a strong conservative. Just look at Quinn's complaints about how conservative he is. He is strongly against abortion and he has supported parental notification and required ultrasounds.
As I mentioned Gov. Quinn is still keen on a state income tax increase. Brady (site: here) is fighting the tax increase and using it as a campaign issue. He is also "doubling down" on the the Tea Party. Disgraced winner/loser of the Dem Lt. Gov race Scott Lee Cohen is trying to enter the race as an Independent, which if it has any impact should help Brady.
Brady is currently taking some flak for not owing any taxes, which was spawned after the Chicago political press became upset during Brady's tax filing release drama. They had to leave Chicago and make a trip into central Illinois, which they hate.
Illinois 14th Congressional District: Randy Hultgren
This is my district. I have a Republican state senator and state representative, and Lee country is one of few in northern IL that voted for McCain. Bush won the 14th district with roughly 55% in both 2000 and 2004, but Obama took it for that same number in 2008. A scorched earth primary gave us very poor candidate Jim Oberwies, who was mostly famous for losing elections and going out of his way to tick off Latinos. That gave us Bill Foster, a physicist and entrepreneur (side note--this Dem scientist voted against the climate bill as "flawed" while Kirk voted for it).
Enter Hultgren (site: here), the popular state senator representing the 48th Senate district. He just got endorsed by Romney, finished a fundraiser with Pete Sessions, and Swing State Project has him at 79th in a list of competitive Democratic House seats. He was endorsed by the National Rifle Association. And despite being crushed in cash on hand right now, Rothenberg Report just upped this race to "toss up". I'd keep my eyes on this one, as Cook Political Report calls Foster the "most vulnerable" House Democrat in Illinois.
Illinois 11th Congressional District: Adam Kizinger
This district also went for Bush in 2000 (49.6%) and 2004 (53.5%), then flipped to Obama (53.3%) in 2008. It is held by freshman Rep Deborah Halvorson. She beat Marty Ozinga by running on health care, and Kizinger is trying to flip that on her. Risky, but this is a very different year.
Kizinger himself (site: here) is a former country board member and multiple tour combat veteran. Swing State puts the race at 77th for Democratic seats. He has been endorsed by Palin, Pawlenty, and Romney among others. Halvorson has the money edge, and Kizinger has the tea party.
Illinois 8th Congressional District: Joe Walsh
This would seem like a perfect year to challenge 3-term Rep Melissa Bean, as voter angst in her suburban district is running high. This is Donald Rumsfield's old district and probably would run Republican.
Unfortunately, Walsh (site: here) has hit a string of problems. First he stayed quiet about his foreclosure only to have it explode in the news right after he won the primary. Now he is having drama due to missing a financial disclosure deadline. He seemed to connect to voters during his amazing primary win, and he has plenty of time to get his groove back. He's starting by holding the town hall meetings that Bean refused to do, but there are rumors among Republicans of more problems to come. This district could still shift, and it sneaks into Swing State Projects Democratic seats at #90 despite Bean's large cash advantage. The 8th went 55.7% for Obama in 2008, but Bush took it in 2000 (55.5%) and 2004 (55.7%).
Illinois 10th Congressional District: Bob Dold
Mark Kirk's district went for Gore (50.8%), then Kerry (52.8%), then big for Obama (60.8). Kirk kept winning anyway (52.6% in 2008). This is going to be a tough district for Republicans to hold. It may help that Kirk will be on the ticket, albeit running for Senate.
Bob Hold (site: here) is the businessman fighting to hold it. Dan Seals will be the Democratic nominee for the third cycle in a row, and as such has a slight cash advantage. Rothenburg just moved the race to "toss up". I would argue that this is a good thing for Dold, as Seals is fairly known and probably already peaked.
Alright, that's enough for now. Some final Illinois information: both the Republican's and the Democrat's separate redistricting reform attempts failed, so the majority party still draws the districts here in Illinois. The Dem's bill was so barely "reform" that their own Gov. Quinn didn't support it. Yes, this will effect us for a long time.