Consider this a double down on change, from the state that sent Barack Obama to the Senate and then to the White House. The Senate election in Illinois will not just elect next session’s Senator, but also fill the seat now occupied by Roland Burris immediately after the election in this session. Mark Kirk has decided to make than an explicit part of his campaign, appealing to Illinois voters to send a message of change from, well, Hopenandchange:
Kirk’s website now focuses on the lame-duck issue, calling it a “dangerous” situation. He warns, as he does in the video, that a last-ditch, nothing-to-lose Democratic leadership could push through tax hikes, cap-and-trade, and so on. It’s worth pointing out that the risk exists, but perhaps not at the level Kirk mentions here. Nancy Pelosi has a 77-seat majority in the House and could pass pretty much anything, but the Senate will still have at least 41 Republicans to block most legislation, and could have as many as 43, if Kirk wins in Illinois and Republicans take Delaware.
However, Democrats could start passing budget bills after Election Day and hike spending even further in 2011. In fact, they’ll almost have to pass a budget, since they have yet to even offer a budget resolution until now, and Pelosi and Harry Reid won’t want a Republican-controlled Congress issuing the FY2011 budget. The Senate won’t be able to stop that, since budget bills fall under the reconciliation process and filibusters don’t apply. Having two extra Republicans won’t change the fact that Harry Reid will still have a majority — but a wipeout on Election Day may have incumbent Democrats in the Senate from the class of 2006 thinking long and hard about runaway spending that can be used to attack them in two years, too.
Is running against Obama a winning strategy in Illinois? According to the latest Rasmussen poll for the state, out today and showing the Republican Bill Brady up 13 over incumbent Governor Pat Quinn, Obama still gets a 54% approval rating from likely voters in the Land of Lincoln. There’s some risk, but this may help in reminding activists around the country that it would be a good time to rally around Kirk.