Sabatos Crystal Ball

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Illinois

Outlook: Leans Democratic


November 8, 2006 Update:

Rod Blagojevich (D) won reelection over Judy Baar Topinka (R) with 50% of the vote.

March 27, 2006 Update:

Illinois has become very Democratic, and so far Gov. Rod Blagojevich has not stumbled badly enough to put himself in extreme jeopardy of defeat by the Republican nominee, State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka. This is close, though, and we’re watching it, but Blagojevich has a good year to run for reelection–assuming no major Democratic scandal blossoms between now and November.

Update:

The Crystal Ball has received mixed report from Illinois; it is clear that Governor Rod Blagojevich has not been universally well-received during his first term, and the Republicans have nominated a relative moderate in Judy Baar Topinka. The polls are close, but they show a consistent lead for Blagojevich, by varying margins. Our belief is that in this Democratic year, the now-Democratic state of Illinois will reelect its Democratic governor, barring revelations of massive scandal. The investigations so far of corruption in the Democratic administration do not amount to enough–at least in the state of Illinois–to defeat an incumbent chief executive.


Background

Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich ended a 26 year GOP monopoly on the statehouse with his election in 2002. Considering his one-term GOP predecessor, George Ryan, has since been indicted, and the Land of Lincoln has now become a virtually one-party Democratic state, one would suspect Blagojevich will get a second term in 2006. But Blagojevich has had more than his share of problems, and has been accused of everything from incompetence to corruption, and has been troubled with feuding within the Democratic family, from his own father-in-law, a Chicago alderman, to Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago.

The Republican nominee is State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, who defeated leading businessman James Oberweis and several other candidates in a statewide primary. As usual, former Republican Governor Jim Edgar tempted his party with a possible run for months and ended up giving his usual answer: no. Edgar would have defeated Blagojevich, and so Blagojevich must have been happy and relieved with the news.

Still, the governor has not been a roaring success in his first term, and his popularity ratings are not impressive. So a Topinka upset here should not be ruled out, at least at this early juncture. However, Topinka must be seen as mainstream in this moderate-liberal state in order to take advantage of Blagojevich’s difficulties. She may not be able to fulfill that imperative–so we will see.

Candidates

Rod Blagojevich (I) – Democrat – current Governor and former U.S. Congressman
Website

Edwin Eisendrath – Democrat – former Chicago alderman and HUD executive
Website

Judy Baar Topinka – Republican – Current Illinois state treasurer and former state senator
Website

Marvin J. Koch Jr. – Independent – real estate developer, serves in Navy reserves
Website

Randall C. Stufflebeam – Independent – Illinois Constitution Party Chairman, running as a Constitutionalist
Website

Rich Whitney – Independent – attorney, ’02, ’04 state rep. nominee, Note: candidate is the Green Party nominee for Governor
Website