Illinois' Sen. Moseley-Braun faces an uphill battle
Democrats eye Colorado's 6th C.D.
By Stuart Rothenberg
Illinois Senate The latest polls in Illinois continue to show incumbent Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (D) trailing challenger Peter Fitzgerald (R). The senator is down anywhere from seven points, in a recent Mason-Dixon/PMR poll, to as many as 15 percentage points, in a Chicago Sun-Times/News 2 Chicago poll, with opinion of her decidedly mixed.
A new September 19-22 Chicago Tribune survey shows the senator trailing by 10 points, 48-38 percent. While 36 percent of those surveyed said they had a favorable impression of Moseley-Braun, 45 percent said they have an unfavorable opinion of her.
Fitzgerald has gone up on TV with a positive ad touting his performance in the Legislature and trying to create a soft image for the Republican. Moseley-Braun criticizes the challenger as extreme, citing his support for a bill that allows individuals to carry concealed weapons.
The senator's personal problems have not helped her standing with the state's voters, though her TV ads emphasize her legislative accomplishments and agenda.
Moseley-Braun's prospects also aren't being helped by Glenn Poshard, the Democratic candidate for governor. Poshard is being hammered by GOP gubernatorial nominee George Ryan and seems unable to satisfy either conservative swing voters or Democratic liberals. Poshard's weakness in the polls (he trails by 22 points in the Tribune survey), combined with Moseley-Braun's and with the Clinton scandal, have Democrats in the land of Lincoln worrying what to do to turn the political dynamic around.
Fitzgerald has been leading even though many voters don't know who he is and he became the GOP nominee only after being attacked repeatedly by the party establishment, who preferred his more moderate primary opponent.
Insiders say that Moseley-Braun must find some way to win moderate women -- including Republicans -- who supported her six years ago but appear to be much cooler to her this time.
She faces a decidedly uphill battle.
Smoke and mirrors?
Colorado 6 Is the open-seat congressional race in Colorado's 6th C.D. a serious contest that could end up as a mega-surprise on Election Day, or a case of Democratic smoke and mirrors?
Democrats admit that this district isn't at first blush receptive to them. But they argue that their candidate, businessman Henry Strauss, was given a real opportunity when the Republicans nominated conservative Tom Tancredo.
Colorado 6 takes in many of the Denver suburbs, and it has been represented for seven terms by Republican Dan Schaefer, a consistent conservative who previously served in the state Legislature. Schaefer, who was first elected in a special election, has never received less than 60 percent of the vote, and George Bush carried the district in 1992 and Bob Dole carried it four years later.
GOP nominee Tancredo is a former state legislator. He also served in a regional office of the Department of Education and as executive director of the Independence Institute, a Colorado conservative think tank.
Tancredo won the crowded Republican primary. He defeated one outspoken conservative former state legislator, two moderate state legislators, and Sam Zachem, a former state legislator and ambassador to Bahrain who has lost bids for the U.S. Senate, secretary of state and state party chairman.
Tancredo is an unapologetic conservative who is pro-life, supports term limits, would overturn the assault weapons ban and has called for the elimination of the Department of Education and other cabinet-level departments.
The Democrat, Henry Strauss, was born in Germany more than 70 years ago. A pharmacist who moved into real estate management, development and construction, Strauss lost a primary race for state treasurer in 1974 and was defeated in a county commissioner's race in 1992. He served as chairman of the Arapahoe County Democratic Party and has been active in Democratic politics for years.
Strauss has called Tancredo an "extremist" who has spoken to "a militia group." He cites the Republican's record in the state Legislature, calls Tancredo "anti-teacher" and "anti-working mothers," and cites Tancredo's views on the minimum wage, education and Medicare to support his characterization of the Republican as a "radical."
Strauss hopes that a high voter turnout stemming from visible ballot measures will boost his campaign. He also hopes that a poll conducted for his campaign, that showed Tancredo holding only a narrow lead with half of the voters undecided, will help him raise money and line up Democratic support.
The Democrats seem to face two main problems. First, the 6th C.D. is both Republican and conservative, so GOP nominee Tancredo fits the district's partisanship and ideological bent. And second, Tancredo doesn't look or sound ominous, which should make it difficult for Strauss to convince voters that he is a dangerous "extremist," even though some of his views will strike moderate voters as far too conservative.
The 6th C.D. shouldn't really be on the radar screen. We'll have to wait to see whether voters find Tancredo truly radical and dangerous, and whether they think that Strauss is a serious alternative.
Monday, September 28, 1998
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