National Republicans eye Burris' Senate seat

  • Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, says the suburbs will be key if the GOP is to take Roland Burris' Senate seat in the next election.

    Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, says the suburbs will be key if the GOP is to take Roland Burris' Senate seat in the next election.

Published3/24/2009 12:07 AM

In a sign national Republicans may put up a fight for Roland Burris' Senate seat, the man in charge of top-level races for the party urged local GOPers to find quality candidates for the 2010 race.

"If they run a good campaign and it looks like there is an opportunity here we will weigh in with everything we've got," Texas Sen. John Cornyn told the Daily Herald before speaking at an annual Illinois GOP dinner.


Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna pointed to Cornyn's visit as a positive signal for the party's future.

"Senator Cornyn's visit to Illinois is a sign that national Republicans recognize that Blagojevich Democrats have embarrassed the people of Illinois with six years of fiscal mismanagement and higher taxes and that Republicans have an opportunity to win the U.S. Senate seat in 2010," he said in a statement.

Cornyn holds the keys to the national GOP's war chest for Senate races across the country. In recent years the National Republican Senatorial Committee he heads has stayed away from Illinois races as GOP candidates have foundered.

But this time Cornyn, like many Republicans, sees hope after the ouster of Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the scandal engulfing his hand-picked Senate appointee, Roland Burris. The suburbs, Cornyn notes, will be key to any Senate victory for the Republicans here. Possible contenders for the GOP side of the ticket include U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk of Highland Park and U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton.

Yet, Cornyn acknowledged a statewide GOP win would require many suburban independents who sided with Obama in the general election - the Democrat swept the suburbs in the presidential election - to change their minds by next year.

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Many Republicans are hoping Obama's policies, especially the $787 billion stimulus measure and increasing federal budget, will turn suburban voters.

"There is going to be a certain amount of blowback or push back to that kind of dramatic change," Cornyn said of Obama's policies.

Cornyn also pointed out that Kirk and Roskam won their suburban congressional elections last year even as Obama took the top of the ticket in the same area.

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