Lyons: Dems calling all of the shots in Springfield

While a tight presidential race had the country enthralled, enraged or unhinged, stranger things were happening closer to home.

Illinois wasn’t really much of a player on the national stage this time anyway, even though President Barack Obama held his victory party Tuesday night at McCormick Place. He was expected to carry his home state easily, and did.

Late polls also projected that Obama would win enough overall electoral votes to reclaim the presidency, and he did.

The polls weren’t some vast media conspiracy, they were done by people who get paid to study and examine such things. If they’re wrong, people stop paying them to make such predictions.

Obviously, it’s still a divided nation – nearly 50/50. That’s unlikely to change, but Obama was able to bring enough of those without strong party identity over to his side in a way that Mitt Romney did not, despite a sputtering economy.

Smarter people than I can debate the finer points and the whys. But when all the confetti has been swept away, you still have a Republican House, a Democratic Senate and a Democrat as president.

Maybe that will work out better than it has over the past two years. It might. Hope for Change – Hope and Change?

Without fretting over how to keep Obama from a second term, House Republicans have their own elections to worry about in two years. If those years are spent doing nothing more than obstructing, the country might take the House from them, too. And unless Obama wants a legacy of accomplishing very little, he’s going to have to work with this Congress, lest he put Democrats’ hold on the White House in jeopardy in 2016.

McHenry County was odd man out. Unlike in 2008, when Obama carried McHenry County, he lost by nine points here this election. A red county in a blue state in a blue-enough nation.

Politically, things were pretty quiet, too. There were contested County Board races and a fairly wonky and ill-fated county executive referendum. We did have some contested congressional races and a state House and state Senate race leaving us with mainly Republicans and one Democrat. When there was an incumbent, the incumbent won.

Meanwhile, despite our relatively easy state representative and state Senate battles, the rest of Illinois gave Democrats even more power with a Democratic governor, Democratic Senate and a now veto-proof Michael Madigan-led House.

This is the state Legislature that predictably punted on an $85 billion pension liability now in the death grip of a party that depends on public employee union voters.

I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican or whether you spent the past six months with your fingers in your ears pretending that the election didn’t exist. This is a precarious situation for Illinois’ fiscal future.

Lament or party over the presidential election if you so chose, but I’d pay close attention to Springfield real soon.

• Kevin Lyons is news editor of the Northwest Herald. Reach him at 815-526-4505 or email him at

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