Illinois showdown

The shockwaves from the Massachusetts have just barely settled, and we already have another showdown in a state that’s especially close to the White House: Illinois.

Tuesday’s crowded ballot will test Gov. Pat Quinn’s popularity within his own party a year after he took over the reins from disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich, as well as pare down the field for the surprisingly up-for-grabs U.S. Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama.

Mix in the shadow of corruption that hangs over the state and an unemployment rate above the national average and even the political professionals aren’t sure what to expect.

“I have no freaking idea what’s going to happen Tuesday,” said Kitty Kurth, a Chicago-based Democratic consultant. “It’s going to be an election that’s going to have people scratching their heads for a week.”

The White House is paying close attention today. It’s a primary close to Obama’s heart, as it’s his former Senate seat that’s up for grabs. Roland Burris wisely decided not to seek reelection, and if a Republican wins that seat, Obama will be bound to take it even harder than Scott Brown’s win.

State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is the frontrunner for the Democratic Party, while Representative Matt Kirk is expected to win the Republican nomination. Some conservatives think Kirk is too liberal a Republican, but he seems to be similar to Scott Brown: a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. In these times, that should be good enough for us right now, and regardless, Kirk will likely be the Republican facing Giannoulias anyways. He’s polling well against Giannoulias. There haven’t been many polls yet matching the two of them, but one October poll showed Kirk leading 42-35.

In the race for the governer’s mansion, things are a big more unclear. Rasmussen showed State Comptroller Dan Hynes leading Gov. Pat Quinn. The race is likely to be a toss-up for the Democrats, but what about for Republicans? The tea party candidate is clearly Adam Andrzejewski. A PPP poll showed him trailing State Sen. Kirk Dillard by 8 points. He’s been touting an internal poll showing him trailing by only 2 points on Sunday, though. He also scored the endorsement of Lech Walesa, former president of Poland, a big win in Chicago. Dillard is the most moderate of all the Republicans running, and ads are showing clips of him praising Obama. I’d like to believe that Andrzejewski will pull it out, but it still seems unlikely.

Today’s results won’t have the weight that the Massachusetts election did — it is only a primary, after all, but it will serve as a harbinger of what is to come in Illinois.

Cross-posted from Cassy’s blog. Stop by for more original commentary or follow her on Twitter!

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