Recall: In 2004, Republican nominee Jack Ryan was forced to pull out of the Illinois race for the US Senate. The GOP replaced Ryan with carpetbagger Alan Keyes, and Barack Obama eventually won the election.
However, Keyes wasn't the party's first choice to take over the nomination.
That distinction belongs to former Chicago Bears coach "Iron" Mike Ditka, a self-described "staunch conservative."
A lot of people in Illinois thought Ditka had a pretty good chance to win, had he accepted the invitation to run. Remember: four years ago, Obama was a relative unknown. He was back in the state senate after having been defeated badly in a 2000 primary in which he sought to run for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Ditka, on the other hand, was one of the most famous– and in many, many places, beloved– people in the state of Illinois. He was controversial, yes, but that’s what his admirers liked about him. He was instantly recognizable in every corner of the state– he would have drawn enormous crowds to rallies. Mike Ditka, the icon, against Barack Obama, the novice?
“I am who I am,” Ditka told me. “People know that.”
Had Ditka run and won, there isn’t a way in the world that Obama would have been in the race for the White House now. And history would have been completely rewritten.
In short--sometimes, a butterfly not flapping its wings can cause a hurricane, as well.
(H/T: Grandpa John's, via Dr. Sanity)