Running in a long shadow - and a dark one

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The state that launched Barack Obama's political career is no Democratic redoubt in 2010.

Disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich has cast a shadow over the entire Democratic ticket. One potential victim: Gov. Pat Quinn, the former lieutenant governor who stepped up after Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office, and who has grappled with a fiscal crisis billed as the worst in state history. Quinn's GOP challenger is state Sen. Bill Brady; the two have sparred over taxes and spending cuts.

The Illinois Senate race is one of this election year's nastiest brawls, pitting Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias against Republican Rep. Mark Kirk. Both candidates carry heavy baggage. Giannoulias, an Obama friend, has struggled to distance himself from the collapse of his family's Broadway Bank. Kirk, a moderate once viewed as the clear favorite, was forced to explain a series of resume embellishments about his work experience and military service. This contest is a dead heat.

The anti-Democratic tide could sweep out three incumbents, Reps. Bill Foster, Debbie Halvorson and Phil Hare. But there is one possible bright spot for Democrats: Dan Seals is favored to win Kirk's former House seat in the northwest Chicago suburbs against Republican businessman Robert Dold.

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