Thursday, October 24, 2013

Do Illinois Republicans have anyone to take on Sen. Durbin?

Sen. Richard J. Durbin
Illinois' Senior Senator Richard J. Durbin is up for reelection this cycle and his reelection appears, at this point, to be a lock-cinch certainty.

State Sen. Jim Oberweis (25th Dist.) seems to be the only announced Republican challenger.

Really? Really?

Durbin surely is vulnerable. As Senate Majority Whip, Durbin has had to align himself with all sorts of national priorities and programs -- the kind of thing that opens one up to charges that a senator has stopped paying attention to the feelings of the folks back home. And Illinoisans have terminated the Senate careers of prior aspirants to the Democratic leadership. Sen. J. Hamilton Lewis was Democratic Whip from 1913 to 1919 when he also lost a reelection bid. (Lewis, however, actually did come back to the Senate, and into the Senate leadership, in the 1930s, eventually dying in office). Sen. Scott W. Lucas was Democratic Whip from 1947-1949, when he became Majority Leader -- only to lose reelection in 1950 to Everett McKinley Dirksen.

So there is precedent.

And just this week Durbin was caught in a whopper of a fib: Although he was not in attendance, Durbin regaled his Facebook audience with the tale of a meeting between Republican House leaders and the President and White House staff during the recent (stupid) government shutdown. Durbin quoted an unnamed GOP leader as saying to the President, "I cannot even stand to look at you."

Well of course the story went viral.

The True Blue Left thought that was just the sort of disrespectful thing that one of those crazy Tea Party bomb-throwers would say to the duly elected President of these United States. And, sadly, I'm sure that too many on the Red Meat Right thought so too (perhaps adding "right on!" if they retold the tale).

In this morning's Chicago Sun-Times, Lynn Sweet quotes White House Press Secretary Jay Carney as flatly contradicting Durbin's story: It "did not happen," Carney said.

Getting caught in a silly, needless lie like that would be fatal to many politicians. And it still may be harmful to Senator Durbin.

But only if there is a credible Republican opponent. Perennial candidate Oberweis will not fit the bill.

Durbin is a careerist who embraces whatever position seems to propel him forward. When he was a Downstate Member of Congress, then-Rep. Durbin, a professed Catholic, was moderately pro-life. To reach the Senate, however, Durbin embraced radical pro-abortion views. And there he remains. He is out front, loud and proud, in favor of gay marriage -- but, as noted yesterday, completely ineffective in influencing his fellow Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly to follow his lead. (Best of both worlds for him that way.)

Almost anyone -- besides Jim Oberweis -- that the Republicans put up would be a strong candidate against Durbin. Heck, I'd be a stronger Republican candidate against Durbin than Oberweis and I'm not only anonymous, I've never voted in a Republican primary in my life. (No lawyer from Chicago should ever vote in a Republican primary -- it's tantamount giving up your right to vote for the judges who decide your cases, since the Republicans don't even bother to field judicial candidates in Cook County races except in a far northwest suburban enclave called the 13th Judicial Subcircuit.)

But the Republicans are the Stupid Party. And Senator Durbin's nearly certain reelection will provide further proof.

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