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More Bad News For Bean

Last month Melissa Bean's reelection bid in the 8th Congressional District in Illinois hit a rather sizeable bump in the road when the state AFL-CIO refused to endorse her - political payback for her vote in favor of CAFTA last year.

Now comes word that third-party candidate Bill Scheurer has made it onto the ballot in November. Scheurer is a lay minister and "progressive" peace activist who ran against Bean in the 2004 Democratic primary, winning 22% of the vote. Adding insult to injury, it turns out that Scheurer made it onto the ballot with the help of labor unions, which provided volunteers to help him collect signatures and have also donated more than $30,000 to his campaign this year.

A third-party progressive candidate with even minimal union backing is bad news for Bean, who is in a competitive race with Republican Dave McSweeney to hold onto the seat she took from Phil Crane in 2004. Illinois-8 is a decidedly Republican-leaning district (Cook Partisan Voting Index R+5), so if Scheurer manages to siphon off even a couple of points from Bean it could prove lethal.

On the plus side for Bean: she ran unopposed in the primary and is flush with close to $2 million cash-on-hand while McSweeney is essentially broke after spending more than $2.4 million (the vast majority of which came from his own personal fortune) to outlast a crowded primary field. McSweeney has been bringing in Republican dignitaries left and right - Speaker Hastert, Vice President Cheney and Rudy Giuliani all made appearances in Chicago in June - in an effort to fill his coffers and post a respectable number for the latest FEC filing.

The money race becomes all that more important now that Scheurer is on the ballot. Unless McSweeney proves to be utterly incompetent - which isn't very likely - Bean is going to need to outspend him in a big way to compensate for the vulnerabilities created by a challenge from her left and lack of union support.