Skip to comments.Durbin lacks the profile of a winner
Posted on 04/24/2002 5:22:57 PM PDT by BillyBoy
April 24, 2002
BY STEVE NEAL, SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
His re-election isn't a done deal.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin's potential vulnerability was exposed in the March 19 primary when nearly a third of Democratic voters shunned him.
Durbin, 57, who is favored to win a second term in the general election, got the lightest vote among the four slated Democratic candidates who were unopposed in last month's primary. As the sitting U.S. senator, he had the top ballot position and should have led the Democratic ticket. But he fell short of those expectations.
State Rep. James B. Durkin (R-Westchester), 41, Durbin's opponent, has potential crossover appeal to disaffected Democrats. Durkin, who chaired Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign in Illinois, grew up in a Democratic household and has close ties to many Chicago Democrats. Durbin's weak showing in last month's primary has given new hope to the GOP.
Of the more than 1.3 million voters who cast Democratic ballots, Durbin's box was left blank on 402,346 ballots. Some dropoff is normal in uncontested primaries. But an unusually large number of Democrats ignored Durbin. Nearly three-fourths of this dropoff was in Cook County, which provided 60 percent of the statewide Democratic primary vote. Durbin was ignored by 37.5 percent of Cook County Democratic voters.
Secretary of State Jesse C. White led the Democratic ticket with more than 1.1 million votes, followed by State Comptroller Dan Hynes, who also topped the million-vote mark.
State Rep. Thomas J. Dart, the Democratic nominee for state treasurer, ran third on the ticket with 966,421 votes. What is astonishing is that Dart, who is making his first run for statewide office, got 47,954 more votes than Durbin, a 20-year member of the Illinois congressional delegation .
Among the reasons that Durbin lagged behind his running mates in Cook County is that the Springfield resident isn't a household name in the Chicago area. White, a former professional baseball player in the Cubs organization and former state legislator, enjoys high name recognition as the founder and coach of the Jesse White Tumblers.
Hynes, who has excelled in his first term as comptroller, and Dart, who has been an impact player in the General Assembly, got a larger statewide vote than Durbin because both have grass-roots organizations in the Chicago area.
Durbin not only ran last among the unopposed statewide candidates but also trailed members of the Cook County ticket. He received 18 percent fewer votes among Cook County Democrats than three-term Clerk David D. Orr. Durbin trailed County Treasurer Maria Pappas by 15.7 percent, Sheriff Michael F. Sheahan by 11.6 percent and Assessor James Houlihan by 8.5 percent.
Even though Democrats made up 57 percent of the statewide primary vote, only 39.5 percent of the March 19 voters cast their ballots for Durbin. Because the GOP had a contest for the U.S. Senate, 87 percent of Republicans cast ballots in their primary. Only 121,108 Republicans declined to vote in their senatorial primary.
Durbin ran behind the uncontested Democrats in most parts of the state. Even in Sangamon County, where Durbin has maintained a residence for three decades, he ran behind White and Hynes . In his home county, Durbin ran only 87 votes ahead of Dart.
There are other reasons for Durbin's lackluster performance. Most grass-roots voters don't relate to their U.S. senators. Durbin is the third U.S. senator from Illinois to seek re-election in the last decade. The other two were defeated: Alan J. Dixon in 1992 and Carol Moseley-Braun in 1998.
Durbin, who has been on both sides of controversial issues ranging from abortion rights to trade agreements, has yet to define himself. Though he is a hard worker, Durbin is also bland, dull, and his mind is unburdened by original thought. He seems to be more guided by the polls than anything resembling a political philosophy.
What is troubling to Democratic strategists is that Durbin ran weaker last month than Moseley-Braun in the '98 primary. Moseley-Braun ran first among the three unopposed Democratic statewide candidates in '98. She got nearly two-thirds of the overall Democratic primary vote and received 34,278 more than Hynes and 19,000 more votes than former Chicago City Treasurer Miriam Santos, the '98 Democratic nominee for attorney general. Moseley-Braun's numbers should have been stronger in that primary, and her dropoff was a clear sign that her campaign was in trouble.
Durbin, who has left few footprints in his five years in the U.S. Senate, might be facing the run of his life.
Instead, it's written by Steve Neal, who's become a big left-wing mouth piece on the Chicago Sun-Times for the past year or two. If you look at Neal's recent opus', you'll see titles like "Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate", "Indictments dig an early hole for state GOP", "Prevailing winds favor Blagojevich", not to mention a whole series of apologist articles for our ultra-corrupt, scumbag RINO socialist Governor. His favorite activity is smearing non-RINO GOP underdogs and proclaiming they can't win. Neal is an unabashed liberal (or "Progressive", the term he's favored lately as he's grown more P.C.). If he's writting articles declaring that Durbin is "dull, lackluster", and losing massive support, then the 'RATs must be running scared. This article is probably a subtle message to Durbin to start fighting the campaign, because liberals like Neal realize he could theoretically lose!
Time for the national GOP to stop writing off this race. Yeah, WE KNOW, Gore beat Bush in Illinois by double-digits. On the other hand, back in '98, Fitzgerald was the ONLY Republican in the entire country to beat an INCUMBANT 'RAT in a U.S. Senate race. Liberals wrote him off in both the general election AND the primary. Illinois is not Vermont or Maryland, and Republicans DO win statewide here.
Furthermore, as the article noted, we have a revolving-door policy on Senators and this state is VERY hostile to incumbants. I'd actually rate Durkin's chances as BETTER than our squishy GOP gubernational candidate that all non-Illinoians seem to think is our only hope.
* Belives in the rights of the unborn and is 100% Pro-Life.
* Supports the right of gun owners to protect themselves and their families, and respects their right to enjoy recreational activities.
* Will fight for a Veteran's Bill of Rights to provide the best care possible for our nation's heroes.
* Strengthen our military and rebuild our intelligence capabilities.
* Implement a national missile defense system to protect our country against attacks from rogue nations.
* Provide our men & women in uniform with appropriate pay and living conditions.
* Secure our borders through strong immigration controls and provide the tools needed to enforce our immigration laws.
* Act to immediately reduce the marginal tax rates across the board as well as the capital gains tax to spur spending and investment.
* Repeal the personal alternative minimum tax that affects a growing number of middle class families with deductions like children and dependents.
* Accelerate business depreciation schedules to provide for capital investment to stimulate our economy and provide business growth and expansion.
* Provide real school choice through competition so all children have access to the best quality education available.
* Reduce unnecessary federal red tape to allow parents and teachers to do their jobs with accountable local control.
* Facilitate exploration in ANWR and other domestic sources to break our reliance on OPEC and foreign sourced oil.
* Support research and development of nuclear power in addition to providing for safe, centralized storage of nuclear waste in Nevada.
Not unlike the democrap he replaced.
Durkin won't vote for Pat Leahy for chair of judiciary. He won't WRITE bills opening up gun makers for lawsuits either like Durbin did(along with Carl Lenin).
I think Durbin's best friend in the senate is Carl Lenin.
Exactly right. Unopposed races typically score LOWER in actual votes count, than the rest of the ballot. Voters will typically get to a part of a ballot and see an unopposed candidate and skip punching the chad. The problem as Steve Neal points out is:
But an unusually large number of Democrats ignored Durbin. Nearly three-fourths of this dropoff was in Cook County, which provided 60 percent of the statewide Democratic primary vote. Durbin was ignored by 37.5 percent of Cook County Democratic voters.
Durbin's problem may in fact be that Durkin has close ties with certain segments of the Democrat electorate here in Illinois, notably C(r)ook County if Steve Neal is correct. While I have to pause with some concern that Durkin might be a McManiac clone, we can rest assured that Durkin won't be voting for things like tax increases, or DemocRATS for committee chairs in a tie Senate.
I would expect to see Durbin hitting on Durkin's pro-life voting record (screaming at women that Durkin will take away their "choice"), Durkin's statements that he wants to repeal the AMT as a "tax cut for the rich" and Durkin's voting record on school vouchers as a way of "defunding" the public schools.
I have to admit that Durkin wasn't my first choice, but the more I revisit his voting record on issues I care about deeply, the more I find myself liking him.
Looks like Durbin is beatable. What say you gents?
LOL. Paul Simon has the personality of a sucker fish, but you got him some originality points for that idiotic bow tie he always wore.
The '96 Salvi vs. Durbin race to suceed Simon was the first big Senate race I closely watched. My whole family was rooting for Salvi, of course.
True, but the article pointed out that Durbin did even worse than "unknown" Democrats that were ALSO running unopposed. Only two statewide offices actually had contested Dem primary's, A.G. and Governor. The fact that more people voted for Dart than Durbin is telling.
As for Durkin, it's true the McCain connection may help him more than hurt him (although Bush solidly beat McCain in the Illinois GOP primary) His cozy relationship to McCain bothers me a bit, but CFR is up in the air until the federal courts do something...and Durkin said he would NOT follow Fitzgerald and McCain's position on ANWR. ;-)
The best way to reduce the flow is to cut federal taxes which Dumb Dick fights. This is contrary to the interests of Illinois citizens and indicative of the incompetence of our elected representatives.
Dumb Dick has to go.
This is the STate's #1 priority.
Nearly three-fourths of this dropoff was in Cook County, which provided 60 percent of the statewide Democratic primary vote.
Maybe the "ghosts" were too lazy to vote for Durbin, considering he was unopposed? (I'm making an educated guess that the "ghosts" were told not to bother/waste their time punching for this one.)
Exactly. Conservatives need to work harder to convince liberals and Democrats that Republicans aren't going to take away their "choice." In addition, conservatives have to stop making abortion the No. 1 issue. This applies mostly in liberal to moderate states like Illinois. There is no other way for a conservative to get elected.
BillyBoy: "(although Bush solidly beat McCain in the Illinois GOP primary)"
Keep in mind that McCain's primary campaign was more or less finished already.
This statement is HUGE, in my book. Yet Durbin is still being carried a "Safe Dem" race at the sites I've visited recently. I must admit to not considering this race a legitimate opportunity for the GOP, but you've now got my attention. :-)
Unfortunately this alleged lack of support doesn't show up in the polls, at least not yet. Mason-Dixon has a March 2002 poll (RV, 4% MOE) showing Durbin over Durkin 52-30%. But this article may help change those numbers around.
That doesn't preclude running pro-life candidates, though. Fitzgerald is basically a disappointment for conservatives on everything but life issues (note his vote on ANWR). I like him, though.
Both Fitzgerald and Reagan were unapologetic on the life issue and won handily in Illinois. While we should NOT try to shove the issue down people's throats (it's not like we can magically make it illegal because we want to), pro-life politicians also need not apologize for their beliefs. For some odd reason, it's become acceptable on FR to capitulate on the abortion issue, but you get crucified by conservatives if you do so on the 2nd amendment. I find this disturbing. Unborn children are just as important as the right to own a gun, and probably more so.
Durbin was once pro-life but "adjusted" his views once he ran for statewide office. If he wants to attack Durkin on abortion, Durkin can simply remind everyone how consistent Dick has been on "a woman's right to choose". If he pulls a Corinne Wood and tries pinning the tired old "extremist" label on Durkin; the GOP can simply run ads asking if the Illinois Dems consider their Chairman (Madigan) and their 1998 Gubernatorial nominee (Poshard) "too extreme for you since they hold the SAME stance on abortion?" In fact, this is exactly what Fitzgerald did when Mosely-Braun tried attacking him for being pro-life.
It's true that a solid majority of Illinois do not favor overturning Roe v. Wade and legalizing abortion. ON THE OTHER HAND, the media never mentions that Illinois' overwhelmingly FAVOR "reasonable" restrictions on abortion like eliminating taxpayer funding of it, banning late term abortion, and fully enacting parental-notification laws. The biased media won't point out that guys like Durbin, Mosely-Braun, Jan Schanowsky, etc. are the ones "out of touch" on that part of the abortion debate. If Durkin is "extreme" because his position doesn't match the polls, then so is Durbin.
I'd like to see DICK Durbin just try to exploit this issue. Go ahead, Dickie, open up the can of worms. Durkin has never been a fire-breather on this issue, but the feminazi's who back Durbin sure are.
>> Keep in mind that McCain's primary campaign was more or less finished already. <<
Well, ya know, it was sort of an odd situation. The Illinois primary was precisely one week after Bush managed to pick up enough delegates to "ensure" his nomination. McCain hadn't conceded yet, and McCain & Keyes supporters in Illinois were pretty PO'ed at the national GOP for silencing them-- most of the votes cast were angry protest votes. Bush got 60% in the IL primary against McCain's 31% and Keyes' 9%. Although he handily beat McCain, it was deemed a fairly week showing at the time since he had the nomination "wrapped up" (Gore got over 80% in Illinois in the aftermath of Super Tuesday). Bush' 60% was deemed by some political scientists to mean the Illinois GOP was not united at it would hurt his Illinois campaign in November. Unfortunately, they were right.
I hope this doesn't repeat itself with Jim Ryan. We'll lucky that most Republicans are united on the Senate race, at least.