Nobody kicks a dead dog; even politicians (State Democrats) hope to use their support for embryonic stem cell research to pick up more seats in the state Senate.

The issue has divided the General Assembly the past two years. Hynes and other Democrats, including state Sen. Jeffrey Schoenberg, D-9th, of Evanston, rank stem cell research as a top issue in the November election, particularly in the north and northwest suburbs where four candidates are competing for two open seats.

President Bush’s veto of legislation to expand federal support for embryonic stem cell research means Illinois lawmakers will chart the state’s course through the developing scientific field.

Just a day after the July 19 veto, Gov. Rod Blagojevich used his executive power to shift $5 million to stem cell research, providing a short-term funding boost for the state’s Illinois Regenerative Medical Institute, from money designated for the state Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

The move comes a year after Blagojevich used an executive order to direct $10 million to the institute, all of which was awarded in 2006 to researchers.

Democrats like Hynes and Schoenberg are seeking long-term funding solutions and General Assembly members willing to support their initiatives. But first, they need to get past Republicans in the Senate who oppose them. Hence, the Park Ridge campaign stops for Kotowski.

Just five months ago, Senate Republicans pledged to oppose public funding of embryonic stem cell research in a letter to Blagojevich.

The Republican Senate Caucus — including all 27 Republican senators — deemed public funding of embryonic stem cell research inappropriate in the Feb. 28 letter.

Stem cells are un-specialized cells that renew themselves via cell division. Under certain conditions, the cells can be induced to become cells with certain functions that can potentially cure diseases or repair injured tissue.

However for Democratic State Senate candidate Dan Kotowski, who has epilepsy, the issue is also a personal one, because Kotowski personally believes that epilepsy is just one of the diseases that stem cell research can help, he says, stem cell research is not about party politics and it’s not about partisanship, it’s about the quality of our lives.

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