In Illinois, voters have rightly relegated the Republicans to the curb as idealess, clueless and lacking in leadership. In the Illinois Senate, they are an irrelevant minority whose numbers are so small, Republicans can simply be ignored even when supermajorities are required. In the Illinois House, the Republicans are only one vote away from similar irrelevance. Many pundits expect Republicans to LOSE seats despite the massive dysfunction here including Blagojevich's pending criminal trial.
The fact that they can't find an idea or a leader is shown by the fact NINE Republicans have declared their candidacies for governor and all poll in single digits. They are in a mad race to be beaten by whomever runs as a Democrat.
One would think they could at least attempt to tap into voter anger and turn that into political success even in swing districts, but alas, they cannot. So instead of trying to win at the ballot box, they are trying to rewrite the rules. Enter John Bambenek who infamously tried to shut down this site by calling the FEC to complain. He has hatched the idea of putting on a state constitutional amendment that will require voters to elect Republicans. You read that right.
I noticed this article in today's Chicago Tribune (ironically part of an article ranting about unions, Bambenek's stunt is the second half). He is tapping into the populist rage in an attempt to rewrite the entire legislative article in the state constitution.
In short, he is creating a unicameral body of 59 districts with three representatives per district. However, voters can either give 1 vote to 3 candidates or all 3 votes to one candidate. In a district that is 74% democrat and 26% republican, this would guarantee a Republican get one of those seats. In Illinois prior to 1980, we had a similar system and you had Republicans that were legislators in Democrat strongholds but Democrats could not return the favor because rural areas were so overwhelmingly Republican. It was the largest reason that Republicans ran the legislator well after the demographics no longer supported it.
In 1980, Pat Quinn (who is now the Governor) passed the "Cutback" Amendment to go to single-member districts because of the rampant abuse of such an undemocratic system. Bambenek is clearly targeting this as he calls his amendment the "Bambenek Put-Back Amendment" (how's that vanity?).
In addition to this, he requires any bill to be voted on if 25 of 177 Senators demand a vote. What this means is that an overwhelmingly Republican minority can simply introduce thousands of bills and in effect filibuster the Legislature into inaction. At least in the US Senate, 40% is required, Bambenek only requires ~14% to shut down the state and take it hostage.
It all seems quixotic and impossible to pass, but the fact is if he gets enough signatures its on the ballot. With voter anger, you walk up with a petition, say "term limits" and they sign. In fact, apparently that's exactly what he was saying at the Chicago Tea-Bagging Party. He could simply rewrite the entire legislative article under the guise of term limits and people would never know the difference.
Bambenek is a stark hypocrite. He proclaims being a "limited government" type, but certainly had no problem using big government to shut down this site. Now, instead of finding new ideas for Republicans to run on, they're simply rewriting constitutions to require their election. Hopefully Diebold won't be counting the election returns on this amendment.