State GOP worries about Obama coattails

October 29, 2008 6:49:44 AM PDT
Illinois Republicans are worried about Senator Barack Obama's coattails. They are afraid an Obama win in Illinois could also bring victories for Democrats running for the state house and senate. So they have launched new radio ads to try and cut those coattails.

Illinois Republicans are hoping that by reminding voters that Rod and Todd, as in Governor Rod Blagojevich and Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, are two of the state's most unpopular Democrats. Those voters may be less likely to vote straight Democratic next Tuesday, even if they support the very popular Democrats at the top of the ticket, Obama and Sen. Dick Durbin.

The only problem is that Obama and Durbin are actually on the November ballot, while Blagojevich and Stroger won't be facing the voters until 2010.

"Why would you send another Democrat to Springfield and reward bad behavior? It has been out-and-out disgraceful, the behavior of the legislative leaders and the governor over these last few years," said State Rep. Tom Cross, (R) House Minority Leader.

Blagojevich and Stroger are two of the state's most unpopular politicians. They're both Democrats. And they're both featured in a new radio ad paid for by Illinois Republicans.

"You know, I wish Rod Blagojevich and Todd Stroger were on the ballot? Look at the mess they've caused - higher taxes and wasteful spending," the ad says. "So why would we send another Democrat to Springfield? We can't, not if we want change."

Obama may be the candidate of change nationally and a close ally of Illinois' powerful and popular U.S. senator Durbin. But Republicans in the state legislature claim that if voters want change in Springfield, they should support GOP candidates.

"Change and hope means you ought to vote Republican in this state," said State Sen. Dan Cronin, (R) Elmhurst.

"If you talk to anybody out there, they cannot predict with any kind of certainty what will happen in a huge Democratic year because of Rod Blagojevich," said Rich Miller, Capitol Fax.

Democrats have a veto-proof majority in the state senate - 37-22. And it'll be the same thing in the Illinois House if they add four seats to their 67-51 lead in the house.

Democrat Aurora Austriaco was leading in the 65th District in the northwest suburbs over veteran Republican lawmaker Rosemary Mulligan until Mulligan sent out a flier accusing Austriaco of pay-to-play politics because Austriaco's law firm got a state contract after she and the other lawyers gave Blagojevich $100,000.

"You give because you want to run for something or you want to do something and you go back and you get contracts. She wanted the best of all worlds," said Mulligan, (R) Des Plaines.

"No one is more disappointed in the governor than I am. And my firm, it's very upsetting and beyond reprehensible, I believe, for her to attack the lawyers in the firm," said Austriaco.

Austriaco says that she and her law firm colleagues contributed to Blagojevich when he was promising to reform Springfield. And she is now in favor of a recall provision so voters can get rid of politicians who abuse the public trust. But that doesn't change the fact that her law firm got a million-dollar-plus state contract after the contributions, which is pay-to-play, according to Mulligan.


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