The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

The Last House Race of 2012 and the First One of 2013


The Morning Jolt returns from its holiday hiatus, with a look at two House races — one not quite resolved, another coming soon in 2013 . . .

So, What Fun Can We Have With Chicago’s Upcoming Special House Election?

Moe Lane has a crazy idea for the upcoming special House election in Illinois, where Jesse Jackson Jr. has resigned, after increasingly bizarre behavior, a long disappearance from the public eye, and an announcement that he was on medical leave earlier this year for treatment of bipolar disorder.

Hold on, hear me out. Let’s jump back for a second to 2009. You might remember that in 2009 Rahm Emanuel resigned his House seat (IL-05) in order to bungle being White House Chief of Staff. Well, that caused a special election to trigger, and at the time I took the position that hey, how’s about trying to, maybe, I don’t know: win it? . . . And I was told, quietly but firmly, no. Folks didn’t like the candidate, didn’t like the idea of spending the money, didn’t want to contest the seat. And that’s fine; but here’s the thing. The Democrat who won (Mike Quigley) the primary was cordially hated by the rest of the Illinois Combine, and the general election he beat Rosanna Pulido, 30.6K to 10.6K. Two years later, Quigley’s opponent David Ratowitz got 38.9 K votes in the 2010 general election. Didn’t matter then, because Quigley got 108.3K votes . . . but it shows that there were in fact enough potential Republican voters in the IL-05 to win a low-turnout special election, if sufficiently motivated.

Now, let’s look at IL-02. In the last election Jackson got 181K votes to Brian Woodworth’s 67.4K. But Jesse Jackson’s quitting in, frankly, disgrace: and there’s going to be a vicious internal Democratic fight for his seat; and it’s a special election, which means low turnout. If the GOP does nothing, none of that will matter. If the GOP decides to make the Democrats work for the seat . . . it still may not matter. But . . . then again, it might. We won’t know until we actually try. What we do know is that doing nothing doesn’t work*.

All of which leads up to the observation that if anybody reading this has a clever plan about how to boost turnout in traditionally unfriendly districts, then there’s going to be a Republican campaign in Illinois in the very near future that is probably going to want to hear from you.

You can check out the oh-so-precise district lines here.

Jazz Shaw appears game, and already talking tactics:

So how do you do it? The first thing to settle on is what you don’t do. You don’t dump a ton of money into an air war that gets the Democrats noticing that there’s a race going on. What you do instead is bring back a very old, but mostly forgotten idea which we used to great effect in 2010: Precinct Captains. Invest the available resources in identifying one solid Republican in each and every precinct. Get them the data from pouring through registration stats to identify every single Republican and potential independent in the few miles around their house. Help them round up a few friends and quietly begin going door to door explaining the situation. Save your money for the final week before the special election and then hit a direct mail bomb targeting only the people on those lists.

The message is fairly simple. “Hey. There’s an election on Tuesday, and for the first time in living memory you’ve got a chance to have your voice heard. All you have to do is show up, because the liberals aren’t going to. Hell, we’ll even come give you a ride.”

Would it work, even in such a dismally conservative-poor area? You won’t know unless you try. But if it did, it would send shock waves across the country and be used as a model for the next cycle, demonstrating that 21st century election science is a game that both parties can play, not just Team Obama.

The schedule is coming together:

Cook County Clerk David Orr said Wednesday that he hopes to hold a primary election in February to replace Jesse Jackson Jr.’s seat in Congress.

Jackson announced his resignation mere weeks after handily winning re-election.

Most of the precincts included in the 2nd Congressional District already have a special election February 26, and all precincts have general elections planned for April 9. Chicago is the only place in Illinois not already holding a primary election in February; those Chicago precincts would be the only added cost.

And at this early point, it looks like the Democrats will probably have a messy primary:

Since Jackson announced on Wednesday that he was leaving office after 17 years for mental-health reasons, the local media have cited a number of sources saying they want to represent Illinois’ Second District. They include his wife, Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson; his brother, John Jackson; and former US Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who lost to Congressman Jackson in the March Democratic primary.

Other names include Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Illinois State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, and Sam Adams, an Illinois attorney who led former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s defense team.

Some Democrats see a danger in so many would-be members of congressman. “My fear is that there is going to be so many wannabes blinded by ambition . . . that we could find a tea party” candidate winning, said Rep. Bobby Rush, who represents Illinois’ First District, hours after Jackson’s resignation.

Both Jackson’s brother and wife are both thinking of running for his suddenly-vacated congressional office? Boy, and you thought there was tension at your Thanksgiving table.

Election 2012, Not Quite Over Everywhere . . .

There’s one more House race to be resolved, down in Louisiana, pitting two incumbent House Republicans against each other: Charles Boustany and Jeff Landry. If you feel like the GOP needs to be pushed in a particular direction after the 2012 general election, here’s the first chance to weigh in:

But in a field of five candidates, neither incumbent mustered more than 50 percent of the vote, which is required to claim an outright win.

In Louisiana’s open primary system, all candidates for an office appear on the same ballot, regardless of party.

Boustany, of Lafayette, drew 45 percent of the vote and Landry, from New Iberia, drew 30 percent, according to unofficial results from the Louisiana secretary of state.

Democratic challenger Ron Richard peeled off almost 22 percent of the vote, and two other candidates finished with less than 4 percent combined.

Boustany, considered a moderate Republican, raised $3 million for the campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, almost 50 percent more than Landry, who had support from the Tea Party movement for smaller government. But endorsements from conservative political groups including FreedomWorks, Citizens United, Tea Party Nation and the Family Research Council strengthened Landry’s run.

Tags: SuperPACs , Chicago , Jeff Landry , Jesse Jackson Jr.


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