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July 2004
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Andrea Barthwell and the Illinois Senate Race

As has been fairly widely reported now, Andrea Barthwell was once found to have committed lewd and abusive behavior through inappropriate remarks during an office birthday party.
The Illinois GOP is in complete disarray. Ditka is out, Ryan might still be in, Oberweis is looking fairly likely at the moment, and Ted Nugent has been floated (!) so who knows who will be the Senate candidate.
Quite frankly, Barthwell is now unlikely to be chosen as the GOP candidate (too much baggage, too little name recognition and money). But if she was chosen as the GOP candidate, her chances of winning are about equal to winning the lottery. Obama was leading Ryan by a huge margin. He is the bright and shining candidate and is on a huge roll. He has the full backing of the national party, and is running in a state that will go easily for Kerry this year with a state GOP organization that’s just about belly up. Obama has been selected to give the keynote address at the Democratic convention. Failing a major surprise, there’s no way that Barthwell can win.
Therefore, using the harassment issue to undermine her does drug reformers no good, so I’m not going to comment on it here.
What we need to discover is whether there is something we can do to influence the public drug policy views of the Democrats’ rising star. Obama has been allowed to be fairly enigmatic about drug policy reform and that must change.
I’d like to see a public appearance with Obama where somebody could ask a question like: “Your opponent (Barthwell) is in favor of having all students pee in a cup, even if there’s no suspicion of drug use. What’s your view?” This is where having Barthwell as a candidate could actually be an advantage to us.
We have to work toward more public debate on drug policy. Talking about past sexual harassment disciplinary actions in this case won’t help us.
I encourage everyone (and not just here in Illinois) to go to candidate appearances and ask the tough questions about drug policy, such as: “Do you support locking up sick and dying people for using medical marijuana in states that have made it legal?”

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