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The Illinois Green Party: Blago's final revenge

Public Policy Polling finds that Rep. Mark Kirk's (R-Ill.) trouble over explaining his military record and awards has taken a toll on his popularity. But not enough of a toll to help Democrat Alexi Giannoulias take a lead in their race for a U.S. Senate seat. One reason: a sizable protest vote for LeAlan Jones, the Green Party's candidate, who -- not that it should matter, but it does -- is African-American.

You never hear Democrats talk about the Greens when they talk about this race. How'd they make the ballot, anyway?

Go back to 2006, when then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.) was bidding for re-election. His approval ratings were low, and some of the scandals that would bring him down in 2008 were beginning to percolate. But it was a landslide year for Democrats, and Republican candidate Judy Barr Topinka never got off the launchpad. So 10.5 percent of the electorate cast protest votes for Rich Whitney, the Green Party's candidate. Under Illinois law, a party that scores more than 5 percent of the vote gets automatic ballot status in the next set of elections. Thus, Jones is on the ballot, and Whitney is running again, and both present problems for Democrats.

It's worth watching whether this problem repeats itself in South Carolina, where Democrats are, in all likelihood, saddled with the incoherent Alvin Greene as a U.S. Senate candidate, and the Green Party's candidate is trying to fill the gap.

By David Weigel  |  June 16, 2010; 8:25 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Election , Third Parties  
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