Ballot spots are available

Ballot spots are available

Help wanted: Illinois Republican Party needs two candidates, one for secretary of state and the other for attorney general. Applicants should be aware that the only thing they can win is the appreciation of party stalwarts too smart to embark on such a futile political campaign themselves.

There's a lot of political jockeying going on in the state GOP these days, as one candidate or another vies for governor, treasurer or even the largely laughable title of lieutenant governor.

But so far at least, there are no takers for opportunities to challenge veteran Democratic incumbents Jesse White and Lisa Madigan, Illinois' secretary of state and attorney general.

No wonder. They're prohibitive favorites to win re-election. Dynamite couldn't loosen their grips on the jobs.

Now 79 and seeking a fifth term, White shows all the appearances of the typical Chicago pol who won't leave office until he has no choice. He succeeded Republican George Ryan in January 2003 and has won easy re-election ever since.

He's made it clear that he won't leave the office until he wants to do so, and he'll never want to do so. Just in case anyone — Democrat or Republican — was interested in running for the office in 2014, White announced in 2012 that he'd seek re-election.

Madigan poses an even more formidable challenge. Like the secretary of state, a whole lot of people in both parties want her job; they just don't want to challenge her for it.

While she was flirting with the idea of running for governor, officeholders in both parties made it clear that they would run for attorney general if she ran for governor. Their plans were dashed when Madigan, now 47, announced she had decided to run for a fourth term in office.

To their credit, both incumbents have done a solid job.

White represents the ceremonial face of his office, has hired competent managers to handle the day-to-day business and appointed a top-notch inspector general, former U.S. Attorney Jim Burns, to keep track of the kind of dirty dealings that ultimately sank his predecessor.

Madigan has been similarly diligent, taking on a slew of popular causes that have endeared her to the voters. Given her record, her campaign war chest and her last name (Madigan's father is the all-powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan), she is virtually unassailable.

That doesn't mean, of course, that the GOP won't recruit challengers to serve as cannon fodder in those races. It's the party's responsibility, and all party officials have to do is find a couple of eager beavers who think it's their duty to take a bullet for the home team.

Running and losing is a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

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