Ryan screws up royally

Republican gubernatorial nominee Jim Ryan said Gov. George “Safe Highways” Ryan should “seriously think about” resigning. This came on the heels of a poll by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch showing that 67 percent of Illinois voters want him to leave office.

This was a dumb move for several reasons. First, as I’ve argued before, a Gov. Ryan resignation would probably hurt the GOP’s image worse than his stubbornly staying in office. Second, Ryan didn’t even have the guts to actually call for the guv’s resignation. “I do honestly think the decision at this point is his, and he has to make it,” he said. “I think he should seriously think about it.”

Wow, Jim, way to take a stand. The third reason it’s a dumb move is because he looks like he’s doing it solely for political reasons and Blagojevich is scoring tons of points off him. To wit:

Democratic gubernatorial rival Rod Blagojevich questioned the timing, coming a day after the poll was published–and four years after Jim Ryan ran on the same ticket with Gov. Ryan and accepted his campaign contributions.

“And now he’s suggesting he should resign?” Blagojevich said. “I think that’s somewhat cynical and, frankly, disingenuous.”

By even mentioning the governor, Ryan makes him an issue and associates himself with him in the public mind. Of course, the Democrats will run ads in the fall making it seem like the two Ryans are blood brothers who spent their weekends together eating children. And O’Malley already ran those clever ads where Jim Ryan’s face morphed into George Ryan’s. But by speaking out now, and in a noncommittal way, Ryan’s only making things worse.

Blagojevich has his own skeletons, considering that his father-in-law Alderman Dick Mell puppeteers him the way Jim Henson controlled Kermit the Frog. But Ryan won’t ever get to make use of those negatives if he keeps things focused on his relationship with the governor.