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Will Rahm Emanuel's Gun Plan End His Springfield Success Streak?

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In Springfield Rahm was on roll.

He won approval for his school plan to extend the school day and school year. He won approval for the DREAM Act to help enable privately-funded scholarship for undocumented students. He won approval of his speed camera plan to fine speeding drivers in school zones. He won approval from the Illinois House for an ambitious gaming expansion plan that would grant a casino to Chicago. He won approval for labor changes at McCormick Place. Ditto the CME Group tax deal.

Rahm Emanuel put his formidable political persuasive powers behind doable deals. Springfield morphed from Springfiend to Springfriend for a Chicago mayor.

Until now.

Emanuel announced last week legislation that would require handgun registration, which already exists in Chicago, throughout the State of Illinois.

The thud in Cairo could be heard in Chicago.

The mayor's proposal was welcomed with this headline, "Downstate Lawmakers Outraged by Proposed Gun Registry" from the ABC affiliate WLIS-TV in Carterville.

"Why does Chicago think they're smarter than anybody else in the rest of the United States? I don't think they are," said Senator Gary Forby. "I'm sick of Chicago politicians pushing their anti-gun laws on the whole state."

"The city and the area of the country with the toughest gun laws in the country is also the highest crime rates in the country and I don't think that's a simple coincidence," said State Rep. John Bradley.

"I didn't know he was ever going to do something like this. Why is he taking issue with law-abiding citizens? You're just slapping them in the face," said State Rep. Brendon Phelps.

And those are just the Democrats.

"This is common sense gun legislation that will protect the rights of responsible gun owners while helping to keep illegal guns off the streets," said Emanuel, in defense of his plan. "56 percent of short time-to-crime guns recovered at Chicago crime scenes originate in the State of Illinois, but outside of the City of Chicago."

In attacking Emanuel's proposal, Forby helped ironically to prove Emanuel's point of an Illinois awash in guns.

"People down here I wouldn't be a bit surprised if they have 25, 50, 100 guns down here. Can you imagine $65 for every gun?" said Forby.

Emanuel's legislation would require handgun owners to contact local law enforcement if their gun is lost or stolen and require sellers to report all handgun sales and transfers.

In addition to the scorching response from Democratic lawmakers, the Chicago Tribune on the same day supplied its own scorching message when it released a poll in which it reported that Governor Pat Quinn's support in downstate Illinois is hovering near zero at 18%. In the 2010 general election Quinn won only two downstate counties. House Democrats lost five of their six seats in downstate.

Chicago-based political consultant and Huffington Post blogger Kyle Hillman says Emanuel's gun proposal could in fact help grousing Downstate Democrats.

"This helps -- absolutely helps downstate Dems. Right before a primary election they get to take on big bad Chicago and show voters they are pro-gun," said Hillman. "... [I]f I was running one of their campaigns I would be thanking Rahm for this gift."

But the GOP is likely thanking Emanuel more. They will tar downstate Democrats as the props that maintain Democratic legislative majorities and, thus, the legislative "gun-grabbing" hopes of Chicago Democrats alive.

Unfortunately, the mayor's gun proposal will mostly help poison the Democratic brand downstate and undermine Democrats' unsure hold on downstate legislative seats while simultaneously failing to advance out of either the House or Senate.

Emanuel's Springfield honeymoon of doable deals is over. He has shot himself in the foot. And the rest of his agenda may suffer as a result.