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Palin Endorses Kinzinger

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Blake D. Dvorak

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On her Facebook page (via Adam Kinzinger's web site), Sarah Palin has endorsed a handful of "Americans Heroes Ready and Willing to Serve in Congress":

America, if you love your freedom, thank a vet! And if you're looking for leaders who believe in integrity, service, and country first, look to our veterans.

Last week I campaigned for a true American hero, John McCain, and this week I'd ask you to join me in supporting a new generation of heroes who are heeding their country's call for leadership in Washington.

There are a number of great veteran candidates running for office this year, and there are some excellent organizations dedicated to helping them, including: Iraq Vets for Congress and Combat Veterans for Congress (please click on the links to visit their websites). ...

The second veteran is Captain Adam Kinzinger, a decorated special-operations pilot who flew combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Adam is running for Illinois' 11th Congressional District against a freshman incumbent congresswoman who seemed to pull a bait and switch on voters to get elected. She sounded like a blue dog on the campaign trail, but didn't vote like one in Washington. Instead, she voted in lockstep with the Pelosi agenda - on Obamacare, the stimulus, cap-and-tax - and the list goes on. She's part of the reason for Congress' 11% approval rating. Adam is a strong fiscal conservative with a proven track record as a reformer from his years serving on his local county board. Adam started out in local office, and, like many of us, believes in making government more accountable to the people. When you serve in local office, your constituents truly are your neighbors. Adam understands this, and I know that he will listen to his constituents and work for us, not against us, in Washington.
We haven't talked much about the 11th on The Voting Booth (which the Cook Political Report now considers "Leaning Democrat"), but it's fast becoming a closely watched race. Some background: the district voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004 (50-48, 53-46, respectively), before going over to Obama in 2008 (53-45). That right there accounts for the "Lean Dem" part, although the current incumbent, Debbie Halvorson, won her seat following a Republican retirement.

A political rookie, Kinzinger has conservatives excited, and Palin's endorsement certainly won't diminish that. A recent Public Opinion Strategies poll also found Kinzinger leading Halvorson by 6 points, which is not a good sign for any incumbent. But Palin is a double-edged sword, and her endorsement might work against Kinzinger among Indies. It helps that Obama has a 52% disapproval rating in the district, meaning that Halvorson won't be able to simply call in the White House for reinforcements.

(ht: Geraghty

Dold Scolds Administration Over Israel

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Blake D. Dvorak

From the Dold campaign (10th District):

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Today, Illinois 10th District Republican Congressional candidate Robert Dold continued to speak out in disappointment concerning the handling of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by President Obama.  This comes amid last week's visit by the Prime Minister to the White House.  The President failed to extend to Netanyahu the opportunity to make a public appearance afterwards or issue a joint statement regarding their meeting--a deviation from the standard White House reception provided to visiting heads of state from a friendly nation.

"I would expect that our Nation's greatest ally in the Middle East would be treated by this Administration with more dignity and respect," said Dold.  "This Administration's actions are unacceptable as they only serve to isolate and pressure our Israeli friends to make unilateral concessions."

Dold, who attended the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington D.C. last week, believes that with Iran ignoring admonishment by the rest of the world to halt its nuclear program, there never has been a more important time for the U.S. and Israel to work in harmony.

"The fact that the Administration's rebuke of Israel has continued, even after Netanyahu's now three-week old apology over the announced building in Jerusalem, suggests a calculated and indefensible policy by this Administration to discredit Israel and its Prime Minister."
Also at the AIPAC conference was Dold's opponent, Dan Seals. The background to all this is the 10th's large Jewish population, which both campaigns are courting heavily. To wit, the Seals campaign last week also criticized the administration over its squabble with Israel:

Illinois Tenth Congressional District Candidate Dan Seals today called on the Obama Administration to defuse recent tensions between the United States and Israel in recognition of the special relationship between the two allies.

Citing the importance of maintaining America's strong relationship with Israel, Seals said that "disagreements between the governments in Jerusalem and Washington are bound to arise, as they would between two close friends, but it is critical that these disagreements are dealt with in private and not aired in public."

"Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East," said Seals.  "As we move down the path of peace," continued Seals, "it is crucial that the United States and Israel move in unison.  While the United States remains totally committed to Israel's security, I urge the Obama Administration to recognize the sacrifices that Israel is making to achieve  peace in such a difficult situation. This administration must bring an end to unhelpful rhetoric and work to forge a stronger, more productive future in the spirit of the special relationship between our two nations."

Seals noted that Jerusalem is Israel's capital and that we should respect Israel's right to manage its internal affairs.
It goes without saying that Seals is the one who's at odd with his party's base vis a vis Israel. At the same time, American Jews aren't known for their love of the GOP.

The Dems' Rotten, No Good, Lousy Week...

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Blake D. Dvorak

...at least according to Crain's Greg Hinz:

I'm not big on assuming that the events of just one week can change the core dynamics of a long political season.

   But I'm going to make an exception today, because Illinois Democrats can't stand too many more weeks like this one if they hope to compete in November.
On Hinz' list of bad news are 1.) Quinn's budget; 2.) the Dems' lt gov. fiasco; 3.) Giannoulias' many problems; and 4.) the situation surrounding retiring Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool.

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On problems 2 and 3 I'm with Hinz (we haven't discussed Claypool at all on The Voting Booth, so we'll just set that aside).

The latest wrinkle in the Lt. Gov. mess is that Democrats have set a date, March 27, to vote on a replacement for Scott Lee Cohen -- almost two months after the primary. The 38-member Democratic State Central Committee, headed by Speaker Mike Madigan, will vote on the nominee following four hearings between now and then. It's embarrassing for the party that it's taken this long to get anything done -- after a slew of missteps from both the party and the Quinn people. Democrats have given Republicans a another way to highlight the controlling party's incompetence -- all over the lt. gov. slot! And it looks terrible for Quinn, who's been all but excluded from the process by Madigan.

And of course there's the Giannoulias stuff. Hinz thinks that talks of his departure from the ticket are "premature," and he's probably right. But the very fact that we're talking about it at all is a terrible sign for the candidate. Giannoulias is trying to deflect the heat by attacking Kirk, but the reality is that he's lost control of the debate. The only option left for Giannoulias is to try to ride this out till the summer (or pray for some scandal to ensnare Kirk).

As for Quinn's budget, I'm no so certain it's a loser for him just yet. As he showed last year, Quinn has enough backing from the public-sector unions to stage thousand-strong protests at the Capitol which will generate huge coverage. Teachers and students, social workers, etc,. all crying out for funding is a powerful image, and one Quinn will be able to use effectively.

Moreover, I'm inclined to take Madigan's comments about Quinn's budget ("The people of Illinois don't want a tax increase.") with a grain of salt. No Democrat wants to lose the governor's mansion, least of all Madigan. Some solution is going to be worked out that will save face for Quinn, even if he doesn't get his tax increase.

But I'll add some good news for Democrats:

  1. Despite all his problems, Giannoulias is still edging out Kirk in the polls. Democrats are likely waiting on the next wave of polling to decide whether it's time to ditch Obama's basketball buddy, but until then he's still ahead.
  2. Bill Brady has yet to show that he's ready for this election. Since officially becoming the nominee, Brady has righted himself and is beginning to focus his campaign on jobs and the economy. But it's not like it takes a David Axelrod to understand that's what Brady should have been doing all along. His next step is to start tapping into that Tea Party anger out there on the right, if only to start bringing some enthusiasm to his campaign. Something like an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal or along those lines could bring some much needed national conservative attention.
  3. This is still Blue Illinois, and the big guns haven't been fired yet. I'm talking about the president, whose favorability in his home state is still high enough that an appearance or two down the road could help all Illinois Democrats significantly.

Oh, Those Unintended Consequences

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Blake D. Dvorak

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Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time:

Illinois' primary election would be pushed back to March under legislation the House sent to Gov. Pat Quinn today.

If the governor signs the measure into law, the state's experiment with a February primary would end after just two elections.
Hey, you don't know till you try, right? I'm sure there were very good, well-researched reasons legislators weighed back in 2007 when they moved to a February primary. You don't just start messing around with well-established voting days for just any reason. And now I'm sure those same legislators have reassessed that earlier decision with equally well-research reasons for changing it back. Three cheers for the democratic process! Hip, hip...Wait...what's that? Oh:

Lawmakers pushed back the 2008 presidential primary to February to try to help then-Sen. Barack Obama get an early win in a big state. That worked. But last month, the early primary date was partly blamed for the debacle that left Democrats with Scott Lee Cohen as the party's lieutenant governor nominee before he dropped out under pressure. Democrats are still searching for a Cohen replacement.
Morons.

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