The Republican Party would like to have us believe that it only has the best interests of Illinois voters at heart. Hence, it would also like to have us believe, its interest in pressing for a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by President-Elect Barack Obama. So great is the Republicans' interest in getting that message across, they've started taking out ads on Facebook to get the word out--much to my disgust, since they interfered with an otherwise satisfactory conclusion to a game of Scramble recently.
Not to put too fine a point on it, I'm calling bullshit. The Republican Party doesn't give a shit about the best interests of Illinois voters (or any other voters, for that matter). The Republican Party cares about one thing, and one thing only: the Republican Party. Specifically, maintaining its grip on as much power as it can legitimately (or by other means when necessary) hold on to. They would, I'm quite sure, just as soon not have people thinking about the fact that a special election to fill Obama's seat would give them about the only decent opportunity they have (and it isn't that much of one) to take over a Democratic Senate seat. Nor that it would, if they were to prove successful in the special election, give them one more seat to ward off a Democratic supermajority. Since the outcome of the Minnesota recount is still up for grabs (and since their guy Norm Coleman--who couldn't get it done against Al Franken in anything like a convincing fashion--is apparently also under federal investigation for political corruption and just hired a team of high-powered lawyers to fight off accusations), Obama's seat represents a very precious thing to the Republicans, one that they would very much like to get their hands on if at all possible.
Too bad for them that their bench is so thin in Illinois. I'm quite sure our not-so-happy, five-times-unlucky warrior Jim Oberweis would love to give it a whirl, though doing so would only likely siphon off another few million bucks from his dairy company's profit margin and hand him his sixth consecutive electoral loss in Illinois. A couple of members of Illinois' dwindling Republican congressional delegation have been bruited about as potential candidates, but I fail to see them getting it done in a statewide race where they don't have much name recognition outside of their home districts (and almost all of those whose names have been floated are from the Chicago area, which isn't exactly a plus with downstate voters). If they were smart, they wouldn't be pressing quite so hard for an election that it's not at all certain they'll even be able to compete in.
More discouraging, though, is the fact that the GOP is still trying to pretend that it has any credibility in American (or Illinois) politics. They would have us believe that they are the party of rectitude. Never mind the fact that the last governor of Illinois to be indicted by Patrick Fitzgerald was none other than George Ryan--a rock-ribbed Republican. Never mind the fact that the guy they originally wanted to run against Obama in 2004 had to drop out of the race after it became known that he'd pressured his wife to have sex with him in quasi-public settings. Never mind the fact that Ted Stevens, Larry Craig, Duke Cunningham, Tom De Lay, and a whole host of other prominent Republicans have all been convicted of various crimes, or that the present Republican administration is liable to spend quite a bit of its time in retirement fighting off numerous legal challenges and inquiries about some of its more egregiously bad behavior.
They're also still trying to pretend that Karl Rove's patented playbook is still working. They can't come out and say that they'd like to steal Obama's seat, they have to try to wrap themselves in the flag and demonize their opponents. Hence the interesting (but hardly factual) gambit of pretending that all Illinois Democrats are corrupt because it's been alleged that our Democratic governor is. Of course, by that, um, logic, we should be able to claim exactly the same thing about them, since their last governor is actually sitting behind bars in a federal prison as of this writing, wondering whether their departing president will do him a favor and commute his sentence to time served. Neither are the Republicans willing to admit that there is absolutely no reason to believe that our lieutenant governor, Pat Quinn, had anything to do with Rod Blagojevich's pay-to-play schemes, or that he would automatically appoint whoever he thought would be most loyal to him. Indeed, the Republicans would very much like the populace to forget that under one of the more Byzantine of the provisions of our state constitution, the lieutenant governor and the governor are nominated separately and expected then to run as a team.
Pat Quinn didn't ask Rod Blagojevich if he could be his second-in-command, and Rod Blagojevich didn't as Pat Quinn to be his running-mate. In fact, the two have allegedly not spoken in nearly a year. Apparently the Republicans feel that's sufficiently damning to set aside that very constitution and put the state to the considerable expense (on the order of $50 million, in a year when the state budget--which doesn't actually exist, thanks to our soon-to-be-ex-governor--is already $2 billion in the red) of mounting a special election, just so Pat Quinn, who has occasionally been in the same room as Rod Blagojevich, doesn't get to appoint a replacement for Barack Obama.
Yeah, 'cuz that makes sense.
Only in Republican-World. Out here in the real world, on the other hand, I see no reason to go to all the effort or the expense of a special election. It's not as if our government is paralyzed, or our constitution is in dubiety. It's just that the Republicans would like a chance to get their hands on a seat that they would otherwise be hard-pressed to contend for. And they'd really, really like it if they could keep the voters of Illinois in ignorance of that salient fact.