Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Republican primary for governor of Texas was supposed to be a great race because it was going to be very unpredictable, very mean and very competitive. Lately, though, Gov. Rick Perry has led fairly consistently and, while the campaign certainly hasn't been cuddly, his race with Kay Bailey Hutchison hasn't been remarkably nasty.
In contrast, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's challenge from fellow Democrat Dan Hynes has been everything the Texas race was supposed to be. It's nasty, it's surprising and suddenly it's competitive, according to a new Chicago Tribune poll:
The poll of 601 likely Democratic voters showed Quinn with 44 percent
and Hynes with 40 percent -- within the survey's 4 percentage point
error margin. Thirteen percent of the voters were undecided.
Hynes' surge was dramatic, given the command Quinn held in early December. At that point, Quinn's job approval rating was 58 percent, 46 percent supported his efforts to repair the state budget and he held a 49-23 advantage over Hynes, the three-term state comptroller.
The other thing that the Perry-Hutchison race had (and has) going for it is a place in broader political storylines. Their race is part of a larger fight over the future of the G.O.P.
But, the Illinois contest increasingly seems to fit into a national narrative as well. Democrats appear willing to replace their existing elected officials with comparative outsiders, either as a matter of simple political self-interest (as in Sen Chris Dodd's retirement, for example) or because of genuine frustration with their conduct in office.
There are plenty of Illinois-specific reasons why Hynes might beat Quinn, starting with the comptroller's superior fundraising. Still, one way to read a Hynes victory would be that, prudently or not, Democrats are willing to cast aside their current crop of elected leaders in an effort to save their party.
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