After a tight primary this week, the Illinois Republican Party has its candidate in the House race against Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky. And the party is really, really not happy about that.
“We called on her to drop out of the race in January,” a spokesman for the state party tells National Journal. “We hope that she still does drop out of the race.”
Why all the distancing? Meet the candidate: Susanne Atanus, a politician who makes Todd Akin look like Fred Rogers.
Back in January, Atanus, who lost the GOP primary for the same seat in 2010 and 2012, told the editorial board of Chicago’s Daily Herald she believes that God is punishing the United States for same-sex marriage.
“God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions,” she said. “Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it’s in our military it will weaken our military. We need to respect God.”
God’s wrath doesn’t stop with the military and AIDS. According to Atanus, God’s anger has also resulted in tornadoes, autism, and dementia. “Abortions should not be used for birth control,” she added.
Those comments drew quick condemnation from the state’s Republican Party. “Her candidacy is neither supported nor endorsed by the leaders of our party, and she should withdraw from the race immediately,” Jack Dorgan, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, said in January. The head of Chicago’s Republican Party went further: “Atanus is not in any way affiliated with any of our efforts in the Chicago GOP, nor have we ever supported, endorsed, or assisted her in any way at any time.”
Atanus stood by the statements. “I can’t turn my eye and look the other way when I know that abortions, gay rights, and civil unions are making God very angry,” she said in January. “I don’t know why [state party officials] are not standing behind me.”
Aside from social issues, Atanus’ primary campaign was focused on an economic message that advocated for eliminating the U.S. stock exchanges. Her ideas, in short, are very far removed from what the establishment Republican Party is or wants to be. So how’d she actually win the primary Tuesday with no support from the party? Her Republican primary opponent, David Williams III, suspects Democratic meddling. “I do believe @janschakowsky is terrified of a Black Republican,” Williams, who is a Black Republican, tweeted Wednesday. “So sending your supporters to vote for my primary opponent won’t work.”
Whatever the cause, Republicans are now in a place they had hoped to escape. Establishment Republicans have been desperately trying to avoid a repeat of Akin, the 2012 Missouri Senate candidate who set off a political horror circus when he tried to elaborate on different kinds of rape. In what is expected to be a good election year for Republicans, a highly visible political candidate espousing Akinian views could badly damage the party’s efforts to expand its ranks.
It’s highly unlikely that Atanus will defeat Schakowsky in the Illinois House race this year. The district, says the Cook Political Report, is solidly Democratic; President Obama won 65 percent of the vote there in 2012. No Republican stood a chance at taking the seat this year.
But just because Atanus won’t likely win doesn’t mean she isn’t capable of creating a few headaches for the GOP. Several national news organizations are already giving Atanus the kind of attention a likely doomed House candidate rarely receives.
It’s safe to assume the National Republican Congressional Committee won’t go anywhere near Atanus this year. But when the party is trying to build a bigger base ahead of 2016, having a fringey reminder of 2012 hanging around doesn’t help.
What We're Following See More »
"It is with humility, determination, and boundless confidence in America’s promise that I accept your nomination for president," said Hillary Clinton in becoming the first woman to accept a nomination for president from a major party. Clinton gave a wide-ranging address, both criticizing Donald Trump and speaking of what she has done in the past and hopes to do in the future. "He's taken the Republican party a long way, from morning in America to midnight in America," Clinton said of Trump. However, most of her speech focused instead on the work she has done and the work she hopes to do as president. "I will be a president of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. For the struggling, the striving, the successful," she said. "For those who vote for me and for those who don't. For all Americans together."
Supporters of Bernie Sanders promised to walk out, turn their backs, or disrupt Hillary Clinton's speech tonight, and they made good immediately, with an outburst almost as soon as Clinton began her speech. But her supporters, armed with a handy counter-chant cheat sheet distributed by the campaign, immediately began drowning them out with chants of "Hillary, Hillary!"
If a new poll is to be believed, Hillary Clinton has a big lead in the all-important swing state of Pennsylvania. A new Suffolk University survey shows her ahead of Donald Trump, 50%-41%. In a four-way race, she maintains her nine-point lead, 46%-37%. "Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in the past six presidential elections, going back to Bill Clinton’s first win in 1992. Yet it is a rust belt state that could be in play, as indicated by recent general-election polling showing a close race."
Wednesday was the third night in a row that the Democratic convention enjoyed a ratings win over the Republican convention last week. Which might have prompted a fundraising email from Donald Trump exhorting supporters not to watch. "Unless you want to be lied to, belittled, and attacked for your beliefs, don't watch Hillary's DNC speech tonight," the email read. "Instead, help Donald Trump hold her accountable, call out her lies and fight back against her nasty attacks."
Catholics who attend mass at least weekly have increased their support of the Democratic nominee by 22 points, relative to 2012, when devout Catholics backed Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, a Morning Consult poll shows that those voters with advanced degrees prefer Hillary Clinton, 51%-34%. Which, we suppose, makes the ideal Clinton voter a Catholic with a PhD in divinity.