As the election returns are coming in, I want to share a story about the 1992 election. I had volunteered for the Bill Clinton campaign, and on election night I was at the election night party for Clinton and Carol Moseley Braun. Illinois was still considered a swing state at the time, but it turned out that Clinton carried Illinois by a wide margin. And it hasn’t gone for a Republican candidate since.
As the late Paul Simon introduced Dick Durbin as “the senior senator from Illinois” to a big cheer, and Mosely Braun was introduced as the state’s junior senator to a bigger cheer, the mood in the room was euphoric. And when former Senator Simon proclaimed the end of the Reagan-Bush era, the room positively erupted.
I don’t know this for certain, but I have to believe that an as-yet-unknown Barack Obama was in the room–and perhaps even on the stage–that night. His time would come, beginning at the Democratic convention that nominated John Kerry in 2004. And now, as Obama’s meteoric political career comes to an end tonight, one way or the other, it’s important to know that he did the ground work at the state level first. And Illinois is now as blue as any state in the country.