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Will The Massachusetts Effect Truck Through Illinois?

By aaroncynic in News on Jan 20, 2010 9:45PM

Last night, Republicans took the Democratic stronghold in Massachusetts in a special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. Today, both the GOP and media are heralding Scott Brown’s victory as a symbol of a referendum on the “Obama agenda,” even though Martha Coakley didn’t exactly run an effective campaign. Now that the Democrats lost their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and Republicans are riding the PR wave of an electoral victory, everything from health care legislation to the Illinois Senate seat seems a bit closer to landing in Republican hands.

Illinois Democrats are already fighting contested battles over issues like housing Guantanamo inmates in Thomson and public support for health care reform is closely contested, with 50% favoring legislation and 46% opposing it according to a Rasmussen Reports poll. With a decent amount of anger and dissatisfaction with Illinois Democrats and an emboldened GOP, Democratic candidates could find themselves fighting an uphill battle. At present, front runners Alexi Giannoulias (D) and Mark Kirk (R) are already in a close race and the same Rasmussen poll shows that Kirk may be a bit more favorable. 50% of those surveyed said they had at least a “somewhat favorable” opinion of him.

Unfortunately, none of this electoral bickering will likely to lead to any meaningful change in Illinois. In addition, whether Republicans score big nationally in 2010 or Democrats retain their control, the only difference between a Republican controlled Congress and a Democratic one will be in the rhetoric spewed from the mouth of Capitol Hill. Sadly, we currently live in a very binary political system, where politicians spend more time trying to discredit their partisan opposites and maintain their seats rather than working for helpful legislation for their constituents. If there is a lesson in the spectacle that was Massachusetts, it’s that the race gets more attention while the work of government languishes in political gridlock.