In what could be the bellweather pre-cursor to how November will go, tomorrow is the special election to fill the vacant seat in the House of Representatives by Dennis Hastert.
In a district that has voted Hastert for 21 years, we have Republican Jim Oberweis versus Democrat Bill Foster. For those local enough to Chicago, we all know the name Oberweis for the "premium" priced milk and ice cream that keeps our families fed and happy. I really love the banana malts at Oberweis and my wife digs the caramel shakes.
Bill Foster is a former Fermi Lab employee who went into business for himself and made a boat-load of money.
This is Jim's fourth attempt at running for political office (Gov, Sen and House-twice) and the first time he's actually become the Republican nominee. He didn't have a lot of competition in the primary to be fair, but the fact that this is his fourth attempt does potentially shed light on how his party's supporters see him. Frankly, he's a traditional right wing conservative who's tried to tone down his political rhetoric for this election. Only recently have mailing gone out in Spanish (by the DCCC) to remind everyone of his extreme stances on immigration to this country.
Foster has embraced that now ear-bleeding mantra of "change" which, for the 14th District really WILL be a change if we elect a Democrat, but truly hasn't put forth too many substantive ideas through his commercials which is disappointing. He's been targeted as the typical "tax and spend" liberal who is going to cost us all $8000 per family more in taxes if elected. He seems to support everything Barack is saying though trying to ride along on the popular coat tails.
In a boost to the advertising economy, the money spent on commercials has been staggering with both the DCCC and the NRCC dumping cash into the mix. Every ad has been an attack ad trying to portray the other as the "extreme" that they are except for one for Foster that has Barack Obama endorsing him (smart or will it backfire?). But my favorite attack ad is the one of the cows saying "Nooooooooooooooo" about Oberweis (can't find it online). It is humorous and ties all of the alleged claims against Oberweis visually to him with the thing that has made a hell of a lot of money for him, cows.
I'm not going to evaluate all of the advertising as frankly, it's the typical "too extreme"/"he's going to make you worse off" sort of pablum that the parties have just continued to shove at us. However, if Bill Foster can generate enough support to get people out to elect him on a quiet Saturday in March, than this very well could be an ominous bell sounding for the Republicans in November. I think many of us believe that it's destined to be a bloodbath in the General Election anyway, but if a Democrat can pull this one off, it's going to confirm what the NRCC's biggest fears are.
There's a special election in Indiana as well (filling the seat of a rep who passed away), but this one doesn't have that sort of emotion where a rep was taken prematurely. Hastert resigned amid many complaints that he fell down on the job as Speaker with some of the sex scandals and other things he potentially overlooked while in charge, but frankly he was an honest, solid politician who really cared about our district. He successfully got "bacon" back for us as our district's growth exploded in the 90's and in the end, he was the "High School Teacher who could". To replace a long-term Republican who became Speaker of the House with a Democrat though, will be painful for their party to swallow.
...and to think that the Oberweis/Foster campaign gets to play itself out again in November means even MORE ads. However, I'm going to find it difficult to vote against whoever wins since there's not going to be enough time for them to create a voting record and get anything done between now and then.