Apathy In Illinois: Romney and Santorum Fight For Right to Lose to Obama

Mar 20 2012 Published by under Featured News

Illinois’ Republican voters go to the polls today, in an effort to select a Presidential candidate from ideologically amorphous bore Mitt Romney, stubborn fungus Newt Gingrich and seriously-wasn’t-this-guy-a-political-punchline-just-six-months-ago? Rick Santorum. Fortunately for Illinois, my home state is one used to lose-lose situations at the polls. A prime example: in 2006 the now-incarcerated Rod Blagojevich handily won a second term for Governor, edging out state treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, a leading figure behind Illinois’ runner-up status on the list of states running atrocious budget deficits. Graft, like everything else, has gotten more expensive.

But you know something? The Land of Lincoln has a long, fine tradition of lawmakers equally crooked and inept on both sides of the aisle (see Rod Blagojevich). Because of the majority population of the city of Chicago, Illinois traditionally leans blue, but nearly everyone can jeer the fact that half of our Governors since the 1970s have gone to jail in a bipartisan way. Most Chicagoans will agree that the last Mayor Daley (Democrat second, Machine first) is an excellent argument for term limits. Party politics, while certainly at work, don’t get as much play until the Presidential elections roll around.

This year promises to be no different. However it seems that Illinois is being taken more seriously as a potential red player for the GOP. Cokie Roberts said on NPR’s Morning Edition yesterday that the state has “been trending a lot more conservative in recent years.” It’s no coincidence that I haven’t been able to turn on CNN for days without Rick Santorum’s mug rearranging my chi (added to the massive list of the former Senator’s offenses).

And it seems that the most personal freedom-restricting candidate we have on the election canvas has a better than decent shot at besting “front-runner” Romney. Allow me to pause for a moment to reflect upon the fact that the presumptive recipient of the party’s nomination can’t put away Santorum, a man who lost his incumbent Senate seat in 2006 by the largest margin in Pennsylvania history.

Anyway my point is that things are getting a little testy in Illinois, and not just amongst the growing Tea Party minority in the State. Did I mention that Santorum has a legitimate claim to community ties? In fact he graduated high school not far from where I work. While his parents held jobs at Naval Station Great Lakes, Santorum attended the Roman Catholic Carmel High School in Mundelein, Illinois for one year, his senior, in 1976. You know what Illinois voters like almost as much as sweet corn? Local folks making good. We’re a supportive people. This has got to feel like a nightmare for the Romney team on so many levels.

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens. Conventional wisdom has it that Romney will still walk away with the 54 delegate prize, but Romney isn’t running on conventional wisdom, and he has lost key states to Santorum already. Plus Santorum has been making the rounds all over the Chicagoland area, and everywhere else within the border. Where are we to hide from the messages of intolerance?

The only comfort for a dyed-in-the-wool Illinois Democrat at this point is that no matter who emerges the victor this evening, neither candidate stands a chance against Obama in the general election. This is quite true nationwide, especially with the POTUS’ approval ratings up and the wobbling economy showing some signs of life. But neither man has a shot in Illinois. Romney and Santorum can have their fun today, but you know what Illinois voters like even more than sweet corn and local folks making good? Politicians whom we can claim without embarrassment. It doesn’t happen here very often.

Image: Alarabiya.net English

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