The Corner

Illinois

Another email: “I am in Mark Kirk’s district, so I can speak with some authority on it. While he may or may not have something with his ‘inner-ring suburb’ theory, understand that little about his district has changed:

“1) While Rumsfeld lived in an area that sits in Kirk’s district, his successor was Phil Crane. Kirk succeeded Porter who succeeded Abner Mikva. Kirk and Porter are both very squishy (as is my state rep, Beth Coulson, but that’s another story). Kirk’s district includes the North Shore (a limo-liberal set; Jan Schachowsky is the other North Shore Rep), heavily Democratic North Chicago and Waukegan, and a number of heavily conservative suburbs (Lake Forest, Libertyville, Buffalo Grove, Gurnee, etc. are conservative strongholds). It includes the Great Lakes Naval Training Center (which we should assume leans right) and used to include Fort Sheridan (since closed and converted into high-priced North Shore housing.

“2) Kirk has as much chance of losing in 2006 as Lyndon LaRouche has of winning the 2008 presidential election. His most formidable opponent would have been Lake Forest Democrat Susan Garrett, a state senator who was/is tight with Obama. She declined to run this time around. A very good thing because her politics are dreadful.

“3) Kirk’s success or failure has little to do with the shifting demographics of his district. I believe Porter voted more with the Dems than with the GOP, so I guess Kirk is far less squishy than Porter. Kirk’s Achilles Heel is his support of the Iraq War/War on Terror.

“4) Melissa Bean’s reign will end on Jan. 3, 2007. Crane had grown disinterested in his district. Barnes alluded to the fact that Bean is vulnerable.

“5) Barnes fails to ask why Henry Hyde has done so well. (And I guarantee the next Congressman in his district will be a Republican, Peter Roskam). Hyde represents an inner-ring district. So does Dan Burton of Indianapolis. So does JD Hayworth.

“6) If you live in Cook County and you don’t see a conflict with government, you are drunk, on crystal meth, or on the government payroll.

“You are right on target that these micro-issues won’t do much good. They might help Kirk, but again, his district is indicative of nothing nationally.”

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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