Updated: November 26, 2012 7:16AM
When it comes to silly campaign tactics, Will County Republicans are giving a good example locally this election season.
The county Republican Party has been hammering away at county Democrats, trying to capitalize on U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s mental illness and prolonged absence from Congress. Jackson (D-2nd) is seeking re-election in a redrawn district that includes a larger area of Will County.
The GOP’s “Will County First” effort to tarnish county Democrats calls on them to choose between loyalty to the county or to Jackson, who opposes Will County control of a third airport and has a Chicago political base. Republicans also say Democrats should abandon him politically because he’s the subject of federal and congressional inquiries.
We understand Jackson is unpopular in much of Will County, where many resent his Chicago ties and his new district boundaries, which are courtesy of state Democratic leaders. We have questions about him, too.
The county GOP apparently is trying to use Jackson’s lack of popularity as a broad brush in painting all county Democrats as more loyal to the party than the people. That seems a stretch.
Exactly what do Republicans hope to gain with this strategy? The GOP isn’t going to prevent Jackson’s re-election. Despite not campaigning, he’s sure to win in what’s still a strongly Democratic district. Democrats won’t drop their support of Jackson and risk losing a congressional seat.
And by attacking Jackson so vigorously while he’s struggling with depression related to bipolar disorder, the Republicans risk coming off as mean-spirited.
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has been out of the spotlight since he suffered a stroke in January, but, rightfully, no one’s made an issue of his absence while he recovers. Whatever Jackson faces as a result of the inquiries, the man is recovering from a serious illness, too.
In politics, the time soon before an election is often referred to as the “silly season.” Will County Republicans are showing you why.