No Window Space with Brand Obama
If the signs in the office windows are any indication then down ticket democrats better hope for a Hillary Clinton victory rather than Barack Obama.
The Obama campaign operates in the context of Illinois' own brand of campaigning. Most of the nation is unaware of the refusal of the Illinois Democratic Party to participate in the 50 state strategy of Howard Dean. This means no DNC operatives on the ground in Illinois and no local candidate access to the Voter Activation Network. All this stems from Chicago dominated machine politics that systematically excludes any nominee of the people who is not approved by the established party.
This exclusion becomes so trivial as to extend to being allowed on the podium with incumbent Democrats at the State Fair and the display of signs in local headquarter buildings.
We can see this problem in the upcoming Indiana Primary, represented by a set of photographs submitted from Terre Haute. The Obama office window has no local candidate signs, while the Clinton offices allow local candidates to place their signs. Word from people who witnessed the exclusion of local signs at the Obama office in Terre Haute was that we don't get involved in local or regional races.
The abuses of the Illinois machine have been well documented. At the 2006 state fair celebration of Governor's day at the Agriculture Director's lawn at the fair grounds in Springfield the two Democrats challenging Ray LaHood and John Shimkus (both Republican's districts encompassing sections of Springfield) were not invited onto the stage while a gang of local Cook County candidates pontificated to a crowd of locals who had not interest in Cook County's elections. Though Senator Obama's campaign was not involved in the state fair decision, the exclusion is typical of the top-down machine politics of Illinois and can be found in the Obama campaign.
In 2006 Obama appeared on behalf of an appellate candidate in a district that corresponded to much of same territory as the 19th Congressional district of John Shimkus (R) and his challenger Danny Stover (D). Supporters of Stover were not allowed into the building with Stover signs. Only the signs of the appellate candidate and Senator Obama were allowed.
In Illinois politics are machine driven and top-down. Candidates are commodities and brands which cannot be associated with lesser-valued brands such as challengers to well-heeled Republican colleagues. Earlier in his candidacy Senator Obama was fond of repeating that he was new to the ways of Washington, but knew enough that the ways of Washington must change. Down ticket Democrats need to seriously consider whether they want that change to look anything like the Chicago and Illinois machines.