Rep. Joe Walsh is poised to switch districts for his 2012 re-election bid and apparently throw himself a political lifeline.
Instead of a March Illinois primary showdown with fellow Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren which would end one of their careers, Walsh will run in more Democratic turf, presumably claim the GOP nomination and face either Democrat Tammy Duckworth or Raja Krishnamoorthi next November.
"If he gets the assurances of a big welcome in this thing, Joe will run in the 8th," GOP activist Jack Roeser told me Thursday night. Roeser told me he has been discussing the switch with Walsh and GOP House leaders.
"He's told me he is going to run (in the 8th) and I have a close association with him," Roeser told me.
Walsh is not close to GOP House leaders and he would need their help in the November contest, especially if Duckworth is the Democratic nominee. Duckworth, a wounded Iraq war veteran and former VA official, is close to President Barack Obama and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
A House contest with a Tea Party Republican pitted against an Obama Democrat would be a marquee, expensive race.
All Walsh wants, Roeser said, is a pledge to "treat him like a good acceptable fellow Republican candidate."
I've contacted Walsh's team several times--calls and e-mails--over the past two days and the usually reachable personnel have gone silent. Walsh has a town hall meeting Saturday in St. Charles.
Walsh is the flamboyant freshman and Tea Party movement leader who has carved out a national profile for himself. The attention also drew a spotlight on his life: Chicago Sun-Times political writer Abdon M. Pallasch disclosed that Walsh's former wife was in court over skipped child support payments.
Walsh's path to a second term--as for almost all Illinois House incumbents--was made more difficult because Illinois Democrats drew new congressional districts designed to yield Democratic victories. Republicans are challenging that map in federal court and a decision from a three-judge panel is expected in the coming weeks.
Last September, Walsh said he would run from the new 14th district, setting up a battle with Hultgren. "A blood bath is not what we need," Roeser told me.
Without Walsh, Republicans do not have a major candidate in the new 8th district, with the lesser known Darlene Ruscitti, the DuPage County regional superintendent of education making a bid. Duckworth and Krishnamoorthi are locked in their own big primary contest in the district which has no incumbent.
The potential of Walsh changing districts was first scooped by Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz.