Seals with big early edge, but will history repeat?

For the second straight cycle, Democratic congressional candidate Dan Seals has released a poll his campaign paid for showing him with a huge early primary lead in the race for Rep. Mark Kirk's (R-Ill.) House seat.

In the latest effort, conducted by Anzalone-Liszt, Seals leads state Rep. Julie Hamos 63-8, while attorney Elliot Richardson takes 2 percent of the vote.

Here's why it's a good sign for Seals:

-His poll in late 2007 showed him leading former Clinton administration official Jay Footlik 54-6. And even though Footlik raised decent money for the race, Seals wound up winning 81-19.

-There figures to be even more primary opponents this time, and with Seals maintaining high name recognition and the goodwill of Democratic voters, he could be something of a de facto incumbent, with the rest of the field splitting the anti-incumbent vote.

Here's why that won't necessarily be the case:

-With Kirk running for Senate, the race is for an open seat now, and Democratic leaders have even more incentive to make sure they have the best nominee possible. If they jump behind somebody else, that could pose big problems for Seals.

-Even if party leaders don't get involved (in Chicago??!!), because it's for an open seat, the race will be more high-profile, and Seals's opponents will probably raise even bigger money than Footlik's $600,000. Footlik's total was decent, but it wasn't big money in the Chicago media market.