You know things are getting wacky when U.S. Senate races in Illinois and Missouri are both considered toss-ups.
For Missouri, that distinction is not surprising. Close statewide contests are always very close - and very expensive - affairs. But Illinois' Republican Party is weak, mainly a result of former Gov. George Ryan's fall from grace. Democrats hold every statewide office in the Land of Lincoln.
But as of this moment, it's not entirely out of the question that Republicans could win the special election for the seat vacated by President Barack Obama.
The seat's current occupant, Sen. Roland Burris, D-Illinois, is now under fire for possibly perjuring himself about whether he was asked to donate money to ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich's campaign.
Burris' chances at winning a statewide Senate election were always rather questionable. Beyond the controversy over his appointment to the seat, Burris seemed to have lost a lot of luster as a statewide candidate when he placed third in a 2002 gubernatorial primary. Being out of the political arena for more than six years probably hurt his ability to raise money required to mount a U.S. Senate campaign.
Now, this new controversy isn't likely to help.
If Burris is the nominee, he could face a tough challenge from a candidate such as U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk. If he faces a primary from other Democrats, it could waste resources that could be used in the general election cycle. That's a possible scenario in Missouri, where U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Strafford, and former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman could face off against each other.
So could our neighbors to east experience a competitive statewide election? It's early. But it's not out of the question.