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Hopeful Republicans target Obama Senate seat in Kansas City tomorrow

Hopeful Republicans target Obama Senate seat in Kansas City tomorrow

U.S. Republicans hoping to harness voter anger and ride to victory in November mid-term elections have their eyes on a potent symbolic prize: President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat.
His home state of Illinois will hold the year's first primary tomorrow, a contest shaped by forces - a sour economy, an anti-incumbent mood, and doubts about Obama among independent voters - that spell trouble for Democrats.
"What everybody knows is 2010 is a really good year for Republicans," Representative Mark Kirk, a moderate who seems all but certain to be the party's champion in the closely watched joust, told the reporter.
Analysts caution that the nine-month stretch before the vote is an eternity in U.S. politics, and note that recent polls show Kirk trailing his leading Democratic rival, banking scion and state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who has run as an outsider. "Voters are angry and disappointed and disgusted with the economy, with the lack of jobs, and most importantly with the way that Washington is ignoring them, both Democrats and Republicans," Giannoulias told the reporter.
Democrats have historically dominated in Illinois, where Obama romped to a 62-38 percent victory in his 2008 rout of Republican White House rival John McCain, noted DePaul University political science professor Michael Mezey.
Still, Republicans hope for an upset like the Massachusetts special election that gave little-known Scott Brown the Senate seat held for 36 years by the late Democratic icon Ted Kennedy and stripped Democrats of their undisputed control of the Senate - clouding the fate of the president's agenda.
Obama, facing voter anger at double-digit unemployment and his stalled health care overhaul, has vowed a renewed focus on job creation. "This election is all about jobs. Everywhere we go, that's all they're talking about," said Giannoulias, who expressed confidence that the White House would fight for a Democratic victory in Illinois. "It's his old Senate seat, so he's going to do everything he can to keep it," said the Democrat.
But "the overwhelming sentiment I hear from Illinois voters is that, while most of our voters here voted for the president, they see the Senate race separately," said Kirk, who noted he won reelection by ten points in 2008.
Republicans have worked to tie all Illinois Democrats to former governor Rod Blagojevich, who was arrested in a corruption scandal and removed from office shortly after appointing Obama's placeholder, Roland Burris. Burris opted not to run for reelection as a result of the controversy, which saw Blagojevich accused of trying to sell the seat held by Obama.


Updated : 2021-06-20 08:05 GMT+08:00