NEW YORK – What's in a name? Apparently a lot for Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan, whose identification with sitting Gov. George Ryan helped force a loss in his bid to become governor of the state.
Instead, Democrat Rep. Rod Blagojevich, who said he'll bring change to the Land of Lincoln, will be the new boss in Springfield.
Ryan was plagued by, of all things, the resemblance of his name to that of his predecessor, who was hounded by scandal. It also didn't help Ryan that he's been distracted by publicly trading barbs with his own governor.
Ryan wasn't helped enough by last-minute pushes by President Bush at the State Police Armory in Springfield. A poll released Sunday by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch placed him within the margin of error from his opponent, higher than he had been polling in earlier surveys.
"Every day, this race gets closer," Ryan told the Chicago Sun-Times. "And today ... Rod Blagojevich's lead has evaporated. And by the way, Bill Clinton is not the comeback kid. I am."
Blagojevich responded with a hectic itinerary, making the rounds at minority churches, union halls and local business councils. He touted internal and four media polls from last week reporting that his lead is still safely in the double digits.
"I think all of the polls -- with some exceptions -- are all extremely right," Blagojevich told the Sun-Times.