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  Legislative Republicans need Edgar comeback
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ContributorCOSDem 
Last EditedCOSDem  Oct 02, 2005 04:10pm
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News DateWednesday, September 21, 2005 10:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionConcerning Jim Edgar, absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. So does desperation.

Republican strategists in Illinois, and particularly leaders in the General Assembly, where the party is hopelessly mired in the minority, have conveniently forgotten the fact that Edgar made permanent the 1989 "surcharge," which raised the state income tax to 3 percent; and they've also forgotten that in 1997 Edgar backed the idea of a "tax swap," which would have decreased property taxes while raising the state income tax to pay for increased education spending. Those are decidedly "un-Republican" ideas.

But they remember that 1994 was the Republicans' golden year, when Edgar was re-elected by a 914,468-vote margin and the party won every statewide office, took control of the Illinois House and kept control of the Illinois Senate. They hope Edgar will run for governor again, and that it will be deja vu in 2006.

Edgar, however, is doing his best rendition of Hamlet. One consequence is that the fractious Republican field for governor is frozen in place, awaiting his decision. Another is that party recruiting is on hold. Potential legislative candidates don't want to risk running if they might be saddled by somebody like Jim Oberweis as their gubernatorial candidate. And yet others fear that Edgar, if he runs, would be attacked as the "pro-tax hike" candidate

To date, the major story in Springfield is the potential implosion of the Senate's Republican minority. Seven GOP senators are retiring in 2006, of whom two have already resigned, and an eighth is vulnerable in a primary. The Democrats currently have a 32-27 majority, and that could very well balloon to 36-23 after the next election, making the Republicans irrelevant in the chamber. The seven retirees all represent suburban or Collar County districts, where a Republican should be an automatic victor. In fact, the Democratic-designed 2001 remap packed Republicans into those districts so as to make adjacent areas
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