Secretary of State George Ryan sat on a couch in his Chicago office, reading a document in early September of 1998. It hadn't been a good day. The feds were closing in, the media was turning against him, and election day was just two months away.

Some top Illinois Republicans are making a lot of noise lately about finding a candidate to run against Senator Peter Fitzgerald, a fellow member of the GOP, in two years. But is their publicity barrage against the incumbent freshman a warning that he faces defeat, or is it just a shot across his bow to remind him that he needs to start being more cooperative in Washington, or, at least, be a little more quiet?

Whatever.

Congressmen almost never have much influence in Illinois politics.

The political class sometimes even ships them off to Washington to get them out of the way - often to keep them from running for a truly important job, like alderman.

Every legislative session has its own feel, and its own rhythm. This fall's veto session feels like death - in more ways than one.

One should never predict anything about what could happen in a veto session, but nothing big seems to be moving or percolating this fall.

You've probably heard by now that Illinois Governor George Ryan has ordered almost all state agencies under his control to come up with 2-percent budget cuts.

The idea is to find $250 million in savings to make up for a drop in state revenues.

From the totally pro-life Jim Ryan, to the tough-talking, pro-life, pro-gun prosecutor Joe Birkett, to the "Let's attack Iraq today!" U.S. Senate candidate Jim Durkin, the right wing got its head handed to it last week in Illinois.

You'd think that all four state legislative leaders would have busted their humps this fall to win every possible race.

But it actually looked like a couple of those leaders threw some races, albeit for different reasons.

In preparation for the upcoming election, the River Cities' Reader asked candidates to respond to the following: "Compare yourself to and contrast yourself with your opponent(s) in terms of your respective positions on the issues you think will be most important during the next term of the office you're seeking.

In preparation for the upcoming election, the River Cities' Reader asked candidates to respond to the following: "Compare yourself to and contrast yourself with your opponent(s) in terms of your respective positions on the issues you think will be most important during the next term of the office you're seeking.

My buddy Jim Anderson over at the Illinois Radio Network mentioned the other day that he is seeing some eerie similarities between this governor's race and the last one. He could very well be right.

Back in 1998, George Ryan was the heavy early favorite.

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