Monday, February 22, 2010

Bounce an entrenched incumbent?

How does Jan Schakowsky, who has occupied her seat in the U.S. Congress since 1999, feel about bouncing entrenched incumbents?

Judging from an endorsement she made in 2007, she doesn't have a problem with it at all.

Three years ago, Ald. Bernard M. Stone (50th) was embroiled in a very close, hotly contested race to keep his City Council seat that he had held since 1973. Stone was 80 at the time, and his challenger, Naisy Dolar, was in her mid-30's. In the final two weeks of the runoff election race, Schakowsky threw her support and political capital behind the young challenger. Unfortunately for Dolar, it was too late, and she lost by six points in a race that had accusations of fraud on Stone's part. At his victory party, a triumphant Stone crowed, "Jan Schakowsky, you will never be boss of this ward!"

So Schakowsky thought Stone had been in office long enough. After 34 years (now 37), I would certainly concur. Is 12 years in the U.S. House long enough? Schakowsky turns 66 on May 26. She could retire and spend time with her grandchildren, but she soldiers on. When is long enough? For her predecessor, Rep. Sidney R. Yates, it was 50 years. I certainly hope we won't need to wait that long for Jan to head home. This election year features Jan's first serious opposition to her re-election, which is usually a formality for her. Joel Pollack is challenging her seat. At 66, is she up to the challenge? We'll see.

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