Split-ticket voting may be the best hope for local Republicans come Election Day.
There’s little doubt that U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., of Chicago will carry Illinois with its 21 electoral votes. The last Republican presidential candidate to win this state was George H.W. Bush when he beat Michael Dukakis in 1988.
With Obama’s victory in Illinois all but certain, Republicans have been trying to short-circuit the coattail effect. And U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-6th District, of Wheaton may have found an answer.
A Web site called www.ObamaVotersForRoskam.com provides testimonials from residents who are committed to Obama and yet plan to vote for Roskam. Not surprisingly, the site also links to www.RoskamForCongress.com.
“I registered to vote so I could vote for Barack Obama,” Manuel Fortuna of Addison is quoted as saying on the Web site. “I’m voting for Peter Roskam because he is fighting hard for families like mine.”
“I’m voting for Obama for President and Peter Roskam for Congress,” said Rodney Pate of Villa Park. “Having a diversified portfolio is a great way to make the most of your voting power!”
The Web site also includes the following quote from Obama on March 31, 2004 when both he and Roskam were still state senators: “I am a member of the mutual admiration society with Sen. Roskam. He is always terrific.”
The campaign of Jill Morgenthaler, the Des Plaines Democrat who’s challenging Roskam in the 6th Congressional District, has a different take on this tactic. To start, the Obama quote was taken out of context, Morgenthaler’s people said.
According to an e-mail from Morgenthaler’s campaign, here is the conplete quote: “I am a member of the mutual admiration society with Sen. Roskam. I — he — he’s always terrific, and I know he’s got his family here today. He — he’s produced some beautiful children, which clearly shows to me that he knows how to choose a — a spouse. And we were just talking about the fact that we both improved our DNA with our — with our — our choices of spouses. Having said that, have I said that he’s wrong? I — I love him, but he’s wrong.”
Morgenthaler pointed out the irony of Roskam aligning himself with Obama, given the major differences in their positions on key issues.
“It is very telling that my opponent is showing no loyalty to John McCain, who he had pledged to support. He has shown that same lack of respect to the voters of the 6th District.” Morgenthaler said in her campaign’s e-mail.
While Morgenthaler may find Roskam’s move cynical, I think it’s clever. If he can pick out even a few Obama supporters, why not? Appealing to split-ticket voters has been a recent Talking Point for the GOP in Illinois.
Local Republicans obviously see the writing on the wall and realize Obama will most likely carry Illinois. So they’re talking up the advantages of split-ticket voting in hopes of limiting the damage to the party that could come with an Obama landslide.
We’ll have to wait and see if Roskam’s method is successful on Election Day.