Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: email@example.com
Illinois is the rare state that is holding legislative voting at the same time as its presidential primary. (It was always an early-primary state). On Feb. 5, there will be many contentious such races -- but not, according to Roosevelt University political scientist Paul Green, a general throw the bums out attitude in response to last year's disastrous performance in Springfield (2nd item).
"There may be a few incumbents who bite the dust, especially on the Democratic side, but it will not be a tidal wave of reaction," Green says. Instead, he cites a number of individual races where Illinois power players are fighting proxy battles.
A case in point is the 26th House district, where freshman incumbent Elga Jefferies (pictured above) looks particularly vulnerable. Her big blunder came last April, when she voted against a gun control bill that she had cosponsored. It narrowly lost. Jeffries says her vote was "mistaken" -- her poor excuse is that she was distracted by a phone call she took during the vote -- and pledges to vote for it the next time she gets a chance.
The battle, then, is really between two of her challengers, Kenny Johnson Jr. -- an ally of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. -- and Will Burns, a former aide to Barack Obama and Illinois Senate President Emil Jones. The race has featured countless mailers, endless phone banking and, for those really paying attention, the kind of low-blow full-body politics that makes Chicagoans proud of where they live.
"The internal politics of Illinois is really churning," Green says. "Think of pre-unified Italy."
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.