Football coach complicates things in Illinois

In Illinois, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias is locked in a tight race for the U.S. Senate against Republican Mark Kirk. The contest is widely regarded as a toss-up, and the polls support this assessment.
The race is complicated by the presence of LeAlan Jones, a liberal Green Party candidate from Chicago’s South Side. According to the Wall Street Journal, Jones, a high school football coach (linebackers), has been gaining ground, commanding five to eight percent in polls. Democrats worry that Jones may siphon off enough African-American votes to derail Giannoulias.
According to Jones, prominent Chicago Democrats have offered to support him in future campaigns if he withdraws from the race. However, Jones says he declined because he did not feel the other two candidates are well qualified.
My sense is that, as with most third-party candidates, Jones will not poll as well on election day as he does now. This may mean that Giannoulias’ position is actually better than what the current polls reflect. Nonetheless, the presence of an African-American alternative in the vital Illinois Senate race must be disconcerting to the Democrats.

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