Illinois primary: how the Scott Brown win has changed strategies
Illinois has been a reliably Democratic state, but the Scott Brown victory in Massachusetts has changed political assumptions.
Scott Brown’s unexpected capture of the Senate seat held for almost 50 years by Edward Kennedy sent tremors throughout the United States. And nowhere is this being felt more right now than in Illinois, which holds primary elections Tuesday for one of its US Senate seats, as well as for governor.Skip to next paragraph
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As in Massachusetts, Democrats in Illinois have essentially been guaranteed victory in most races for years. But the Brown victory has thrown such guarantees into question, and the new political landscape in Illinois is prompting both Democrats and Republicans to alter their strategies. This is especially true in the Senate race, which will determine the successor to Sen. Roland Burris. Mr. Burris filled the seat vacated by Barack Obama and served half a term under a shroud of controversy.
“The Democrats are waking up to threat on the other side of the aisle,” says David Morrison, deputy director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. “Republicans have nowhere to go but up. Expect a full-court press to get a seat at the table” in the general election in November, he says.
Illinois Republicans see an opportunity to play on the perceived weaknesses of the Democratic Party. They’re adopting a strategy similar to Brown’s, which portrayed Democrats as out of touch and fiscally inept. And they’re zeroing in on something specific to the state: The impeached governor, Democrat Rod Blagojevich, is expected to go on trial in June.
Republicans here hope that the issues that motivated voters to choose Mr. Brown will also resonate with Illinois voters, especially come November. “It’s gotten to such a level that people are angry. That’s what you saw in Massachusetts, and that’s the same thing you’re going to see in Illinois,” says Dan Venturi, chairman of the Lake County Republican Federation.