Washington Prowler

A River Runs Through It

In Idaho they know who JFK II is. Also: Illinois' rising star.

By 3.17.04

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KNOWING WHO HE IS
Apparently overlooked in Wednesday's stories about Senator John Kerry's $5 million estate in Sun Valley, Idaho, was his most glaring indulgence. Never mind the 500-year-old English barn, each piece of which was numbered and reconstructed after shipment from a small town in southern England, or the quarter million dollars worth of landscaping on the property. Kerry saved his greatest indulgence to share with the taxpayers of Idaho.

After paying for all the landscaping on the Sun Valley property, the Kerrys determined that their water supply was not great enough to keep their vegetation thriving. And so the couple petitioned the state to have a small river redirected so that its waters could be used to keep their garden nice and green. The state complied, leaving taxpayers on the hook for the work done. The state covered the cost ostensibly to ensure that the river's redirection would be environmentally sound.

OBAMARAMA
Republicans in Illinois thought before Tuesday's primary elections that they had a better than average shot of holding the Senate seat being vacated by Peter Fitzgerald. After all, they had a young, good looking Irish Catholic from the Chicago suburbs to put up against the Democrats.

No doubt Jack Ryan is good, but the Democrats' candidate, Barack Obama, may be better. Not only did Obama beat a competitor who had spent close to $40 million of his own money (M. Blair Hull), he trounced everybody. On Wednesday morning Democrats in the state party were already predicting that Obama will supplant Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. as the preeminent African-American pol in Illinois.

According to internal polling, Obama collected more than 60 percent of Cook County's white vote, and better than 80 percent of its black vote. And he did so with almost no support from the state party apparatus.

At least initially, Ryan should show better standing in the polls than his less well-known competitor. But Obama, based on his strong showing in the primary, will eventually be favored in a state that has increasingly been voting Democratic.

The Illinois race is one of about a half dozen that is going to give Republicans heartburn this fall. Senate races from Alaska to Colorado to Georgia to North Carolina and even South Carolina are expected to be tighter than previously thought.

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