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Larry Lough

2014 overshadows this election-less year

Illinois political writers would not have much to write about in this election-less year if the politicians didn’t make it so easy.

You’ve got Democratic Party insider Bill Daley stepping out to oppose Gov. Pat Quinn ... then bowing out to leave the incumbent with no real challenge in next spring’s primary election.

You have a tea party-type announcing his candidacy to challenge second-term Congressman Adam Kinzinger in the Republican primary because the conservative incumbent is ... well, not conservative enough.

And, of course, you have your meaningless polls being conducted 14 months ahead of the November 2014 election – and some people actually take them seriously.

They simply refuse to be ignored!

WON’T YOU COME home Bill Daley, won’t you come home,

Quinn’s laughed the whole day long.

We’ll get you money, honey, we’ll buy you votes,

We know we’ve done you wrong. ...

Democrats who thought they had a viable alternative to Quinn now have to think again.

Daley, who has operated mostly behind the scenes in state and national politics, found he didn’t have the stomach for what it takes to be an out-front candidate for governor.

And it would have been ugly, given the long political history of the Chicago Daleys, all of which would have been laid at Bill Daley’s doorstep.

Bill Daley was the best hope for Democrats who believe Quinn is too politically damaged to survive another election because of the troubled state of Illinois finances – among other reasons.

But even Daley was merely a default candidate after Attorney General Lisa Madigan declined to run for governor so father Michael could continue his long and troubling tenure as speaker of the Illinois House.

At this relatively late date, it seems unlikely another credible Democratic challenger will emerge.

Quinn’s best hope is for the four strong Republican hopefuls to conduct an expensive and messy primary campaign, leaving the nominee too bloodied to win the general election.

Don’t discount the possibility.

LET’S GET THIS out of the way.

Sixteenth District Congressman Kinzinger is going to absolutely crush tea party hopeful David Hale in the Republican primary.

It will be like ... like a military pilot taking on a nurse – which, in fact, is who these people are.

Hale, founder of the Rockford Tea Party, operates in a small circle of people who live in their own political world and remember fondly Congressman Don Manzullo – who was unseated by Kinzinger in the 2012 Republican primary.

Manzullo’s campaign tried to convince voters that he was more conservative than Kinzinger, but he was actually one of those convenient conservatives who opposed raising the national debt limit – but only when a Democrat was in the White House. His campaign approach failed, but it apparently labled Kinzinger as “not conservative enough” for the party’s far right fringe, where Hale resides.

When Kinzinger, who serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, dared to voice support for President Obama’s idea of limited military strikes on Syria, he violated the isolationist idealogy of the political right.

You might have seen Hale’s letter in this newspaper last week, when he called on Kinzinger to oppose “the Obama administration’s schizophrenic foreign policy in order to project American stability as opposed to projecting a ‘confused, duplicitous’ American foreign policy.”

We look forward to the debate where these candidates show off their knowledge on foreign policy and other matters of government.

Hale’s political hope lies in the unlikely occurrence that voters confuse him with all the other people named David Hale, such as the Chicago-based global economist.

Yes, the word is “crushed.”

WHEN POLLSTERS call, they never offer options that allow voters to express their true feelings.

If asked about the candidates 14 months before an election, most voters would prefer to answer: “I don’t care. Leave me alone.”

But political writers and strategists (an extremely small group) cannot get enough of meaningless surveys. What else would they talk about?

For example:

Capitol Fax, the work of Springfield-based columnist Rich Miller, has released a new We Ask America poll for the 17th Congressional District. It indicates that Democratic incumbent Cheri Bustos and the Republican she unseated last year, Bobby Schilling, are running neck and neck – although they’re barely out of the starting gate.

Bustos held a narrow lead in that poll, 45-44, but that difference falls within the margin of error, so the race is considered a virtual tie at this point.

You know what that means 14 months before the election? Absolutely nothing.

But that didn’t stop Schilling’s campaign spokesman, Jon Schweppe, from crowing.

“It’s incredible for this race to be a statistical dead heat at this point,” Schweppe said in a news release last week. “It’s clear that voters are tired of a missing-in-action representative, and they’re ready to bring back Bobby Schilling. A statistical tie this early is bad news for Cheri Bustos – she’s looking more and more like a one-term congresswoman.”

Schilling’s people would seem to know about that “one and done” business.

You might not recall that just a year ago, Schweppe mocked Bustos for getting her public campaign started so late.

“Our campaign got started 20 months ago, and voters have noticed Bobby Schilling out meeting the people, while Cheri Bustos has been missing in action,” Schweppe said, using his very first “missing in action” reference. “The Bustos campaign will have their work cut out for them, down double-digits with only 70 days remaining.”

A mid-August poll last year supposedly showed Schilling leading by 13 points. How he managed to turn that into a 6-loss in such a short time has yet to be explained.

History tells us that if Schweppe says a poll indicates that Bustos’ campaign is in trouble, that’s good news – for Bustos.

Beware of polls – and anybody silly enough to believe them.

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