Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Rush to Replace Rahm

Today WAYLA reports on local politics from Chicago.

The first and foremost news of interest in the state of Illinois this week is the Senate impeachment trial of Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Despite his recent media blitz, it is unlikely he will fare well in the Illinois State Senate.

However, with spring elections coming up, many in the Chicago area are paying close attention to the race for White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's replacement in the U.S. House of Representatives.

A humorous story that has developed recently is about a forum for the several candidates vying to replace the hyper-political Chicago statesman. The Democratic Party for the 43rd Ward in Chicago set the forum date for February 1st in order to allow the candidates the time they need under such a short campaign timeline.

The only problem is that February 1st is Super Bowl Sunday.

"As 43rd Ward committeeman Michele Smith explains, they didn't really have much choice. The special election's been on an expedited schedule … [Emanuel] officially stepped down to become President Obama's chief of staff earlier this month. The deadline for filing nominating petitions was January 19. The election is March 3. From start to finish the whole thing's over in a blink.

"'I realize there are better days to have a forum,' says Smith. 'But there really weren't a lot of days to choose from.'"

Of course, the forum is scheduled to end by 3:00 PM, giving attendees plenty of time to get home before kickoff (5:20 PM CST). Yet the Super Bowl has become more than the game in recent years - it has become a holiday for many, and the forum date is unfortunate.

Smith acknowledges she is not a big sports fan. As quoted by the Chicago Reader, she said "I don't know who's in the Super Bowl this year - New England, are they in it?"

However, this demonstrates the difficulty of spring races. Candidates are expected to work under a much quicker timeline to secure the votes they need - and typically in an environment in which very few voters are as engaged in politics. Even for a federal seat.

That being said, the only thing that WE'LL be looking at on February 1st is the television screen…though perhaps we'll glance at the nachos we're simultaneously eating.

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