Home state politics are not what Obama needs to bring to Washington.

Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. boldly proclaimed that “Illinois is America!” during his Monday night speech at the Democratic National Convention. But judging by the laughter in the newsroom, feelings about that statement can be summarized as, “Gosh, we hope not.”

While it’s safe to assume that Jackson was referring to Illinois’ diverse demographics and economic zones, that’s not what came to our minds first. Anyone who has been paying attention to the scene in Springfield for the better part of a decade should cringe at the thought of America holding Illinois up as a model political state.

Look no further than retiring state Senate President Emil Jones.

On Monday, the national press got a taste of Jones, an ardent Barack Obama supporter, when a delegate to Hillary Clinton claimed that he called her an “Uncle Tom.”

When he announced his retirement, Jones proclaimed that he wished his son, Emil Jones III would replace him on the November ballot. That this wish was granted should come as no surprise to Illinoisans, considering leaders – including the Daleys (two Chicago mayors) and Madigans (speaker of the House, state attorney general) – owe much to nepotism.

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Worse than that is Jones’ relationship with Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The dynamic duo has been battling House Speaker Michael Madigan over Illinois’ perennially late and out of balance budgets. Despite the House’s many overwhelming rejections of Blagojevich’s budget changes, Jones’ refusal to allow the Senate to vote on overriding these vetoes has bred a culture of distrust in the capital.

Blagojevich’s relations with fellow lawmakers are growing colder by the day. His detractors point to his “PR” style of governance and his dubious connections to state contractors.

His snub from any speaking role at the DNC is probably due in part to his identification as “Public Official A” in the federal investigation of fundraiser Tony Rezko, who was convicted on corruption charges earlier this year. As a candidate for president, Obama has distanced himself from Rezko, from whom he accepted (and later passed on to charity) thousands of dollars in donations.

To be sure, the governance of the state where he got his start is not to be emulated. Smartly, the Obama campaign figured out long ago that the dark clouds of Illinois politics casts a shadow over the senator’s message of “hope” and “change.”

But this November, Illinois voters who want true change need to consider the rest of the ballot. Because while a President Obama may shake things up in Washington, the mess in Springfield and Chicago is one that doesn’t look to be cleaned up anytime soon.