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RATINGS CHANGE: Illinois Governor

Democrats had a much easier road to victory next November in Illinois, but state Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s decision not to run for governor will take her party down a much messier path.

The party now faces a competitive primary between incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn, whose job-approval rating has been dismal in limited public polling, and former White House chief of staff/former Commerce Secretary Bill Daley.

African-American state Sen. Kwame Raoul considered a run and would have shaken up the field, according to longtime Chicago-based analyst Russ Stewart. But Raoul announced Friday that he would pass on a gubernatorial bid.

There are two things we know right now: 1. None of the Democrats will start the general election as strong as Madigan would have, and 2. the Illinois Republican Party is at least slightly dysfunctional.

Republicans are headed for a crowded primary. Wealthy venture capitalist Bruce Rauner starts as a political unknown but plans to spend millions of dollars on his campaign. State Sen. Bill Brady (who lost the 2010 general election to Quinn), state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, and state Sen. Kirk Dillard (who lost in the 2010 gubernatorial primary) are running as well.

The bottom line is that Republican chances have improved simply because the strongest possible Democratic candidate has taken herself out of consideration. We are moving the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating of the race from Democrat Favored to Lean Democrat. But that is still a long way from being a great GOP opportunity.

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