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Republicans May Waltz Backwards to Victory

Thomas F. Roeser 30 September 2009 7 Comments

I spoke the other day with a longtime Illinois GOP strategist…the most perceptive man I know… who didn’t want to be quoted. Now that I review his remarks I can see why. When I asked him how he thought the party’s strength and quality of leadership are to win in 2010, he said dreadful. He said “take a look at Andy McKenna, Jr. a rich man’s son who isn’t even trusted to run his family’s company but whose father…an old line Democrat and contributor to the Daleys and every other Democrat he can find… is pleased that the kid has at least found something to do by spending his time in the Republican party so he won’t bother the Old Man at the company.

“His kid is as magnetic as a lead nail, is so dull you would rather watch the paint on your window shutters dry rather than listen to him. He hasn’t had an idea in years, was a totally lousy GOP state chairman…and indeed got his start by being importuned by Ray LaHood, now Obama’s transportation secretary, to run against Sen. Peter Fitzgerald in a primary to oppose Fitzgerald’s reelection because Fitz wouldn’t vote for goodies for Illinois, was a critic of old “Give`em everything they want” Hastert and named an incorruptible U S. District Attorney.

“Here you guys have the most honest, incorruptible senator in decades and Andy decided to run against him because the GOP Washington establishment wanted him to. As it happened, Fitzgerald decided not to run for reelection (a tragedy).

“You ask me about the quality of party leadership with a guy like McKenna having run things…and who is running for governor with help from the country club? You have a gummy old warhorse like Topinka who has become encrusted with barnacles for lengthy service in House, Senate and State Treasurer and when she finally got a chance to run for governor…she’s supposedly a fiscal manager, if you please, she can’t come up with a counter-budget to Blago.

“In fact when she was asked this in a debate the only thing she could suggest is that Blago had commissioned installation of heating rods under the concrete leading to the governor’s mansion-a house he wouldn’t live in. That was her counter-budget. Can you imagine? She got the Republican nomination thanks to a supposed `conservative’ downstate state senator who was also running who attacked another conservative in the race, splitting the vote: for which he got a kiss on the cheek, a Judas Kiss, in return.

“And what a rotten candidate Topinka was! A woman who when President Bush came to the state to raise money for her, quipped to the press…to the press, mind you…that he’d better hold the fund-raiser for her in a `secure, undisclosed location.’ And you wonder why she lost. Now at age 65, she wants to run for Comptroller. She goes around calling columnists with cute little phrases about her bow-wow puppy who crapped in 10 countries. That’s what you got with her. One gossiper always writes she’s “irrepressible.” Right: irrepressibly awful.

“You have people running for governor, some of whom are qualified. Kirk Dillard is. You have Schillerstrom who is. There’s the same guy who split the conservative vote to give the nod to Topinka last time: Brady. Lighter than a panama hat he has served in the Senate for quite a while and still hasn’t been graduated to the leadership because his colleagues know that down deep he’s shallow.

“In addition, you have a guy who is proud of the fact that he has had not a smidgeon of experience in government, testifying that this ignorance of events qualifies him for a run for governor. But watch him! He’s going to surprise you with the strength he has! And you have a guy who was a campaign consultant for Alan Keyes, the most conservative candidate in 150 years…who wanted to repeal the Constitutional provision on election of Senators and give it back to the state legislatures as it was in the era of Henry Clay…while at the same time advising Beth Coulson of Glenview who is the equivalent of Olympia Snowe: pro-abort, pro-gay rights…a guy who later served as public relations adviser to the village of Cicero: a guy who pledges transparency and shining reformism as governor. You have Andy McKenna whose old man who’s up in years won’t hand over the CEO job.

“You know what I think’ll happen? With a host of governor candidates from DuPage dividing the vote, the guy who might likely win at this stage anyhow looks like the downstater, Brady. The guy who’s least qualified of all of them from the standpoint of brains. Every time I look at him I think of the 1972 film, “The Candidate” played by Robert Redford as “Bill McKay.” Too handsome, too dumb, no student of government, lazy: “He’s perfect!”

“Running for the Senate you have Mark Kirk who’s the living alternative to Edmund Burke. Burke wrote history when in a memorable letter to the Bristol electorate said and I paraphrase: `I will vote my conscience in the House of Commons and if you don’t agree you can defeat me.’ That took courage to say. You’ll never catch Kirk being courageous. Look at his record.

“In contrast this guy Kirk voted straight down the line liberal when he was representing the liberal North Shore but now says if we send him to the Senate you can trust him not to do so…including voting against Cap and Trade which he supported in the House-not because it’s right or wrong but because when he was in the House he cravenly gave what he deduced was a majority what he thought it wanted. A guy who said publicly that he may be liberal on social values but you can trust him as a reserve military officer to vote for what is right on defense policy…only to see him vote against the Surge because he figured the majority of his district expected him to.

“That’s what you have in this guy Kirk. Voted against the Surge at a time when only very few-including the president-saw that it was the right thing to do. And the Surge turned things around. No thanks to Mark Kirk. But now he tells you that if you send him to the Senate you can count on him to vote as he thinks. Hah! What a laugh! You think somebody who was a wind-sock as congressman is just going to go intellectually straight as a Senator? Naw. He’s right in step with Dick Durbin. But he’s got such a cute button-nose. Oh, he’s a sweetie, he is. Another Bill McKay.

“The guy who opposes him, Pat Hughes, is at least honest enough to say that he’ll vote his conscience and all the smart money says he can’t win.”

When I looked glum, he said: “Aren’t you going to ask me who’ll win in 2010?”

I said: “Who’ll win? With so many dumb candidates?”

He said, “I didn’t answer your question.” Then he said: “The Illinois Republican party is a stupid party…the stupidest a party that ever was… but circumstances are such and the electorate is such that it can’t stomach the Democrats. So Republicans will win. They’ll elect a governor. If you’re lucky it’ll be Dillard, Schillerstrom, Adam whazzhisname. Proft? Not a chance. A phrasemaker but that’s all. If you’re unlucky, it’ll be Brady. For Senate, the Dems may well nominate Hoffman who Daley wants to get out of town so he doesn’t run for mayor. But it won’t work. Voters’ll elect a Republican senator but it won’t be Kirk despite his cute little button nose. Even they know a phony when they see one. It’ll be Hughes.”

I gasped: “Hughes is fine. But Brady? Bill McKay who after he won turned to his driver and asked: `Golly, what do we do now?’”

“Well, try to do something about it!” he said.

So I just did.


Tom Roeser is the Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Chicago Daily Observer


  • Frustrated Republican Voter said:

    First, I find it funny that, after reading your description of Bill Brady, that you tell commenters to “be nice.” That’s hilarious.

    I also find it amusing that Brady’s opponents are resorting to the schoolyard intellect of calling him “dumb” to try to discourage voters from supporting him.

    You’re dead wrong on Brady’s not being in leadership, by the way. Had he wanted to be in Senate Leadership, he would have been. Why would anyone want to be part of Senate Leadership in a VETO-PROOF MINORITY when he was already running for governor? Oh, that’s right! This from the same guy that really believes Brady voters would have supported Oberweis had Brady not been in the race in 2006.

    I have news for you, Tom: MOST Brady supporters would NOT have supported Oberweis. Period. I, for one, would have skipped that race if I hadn’t had Brady to vote for, and all of the Brady supporters I know (which is quite a few) agree. If we would have been comfortable voting for Oberweis, we would have. He was a nut, and would have done more damage to the party than Topinka did by losing. So we voted for the only reasonable alternative.

    You are right about one thing, though. Brady is probably going to win this primary. Then, all of you “conservatives” that can’t stand him will have to decide if they want to vote for a guy with a legitimate chance of being a conservative Governor, or sit on their hands and help the Democrats prove they were right all along – that a conservative can’t win in Illinois. I can’t wait for you to have to make THAT choice.

  • Pat Hickey said:

    Dan Proft is the only gent from any party saying anything that makes sense, but the man is Tapioca. No Bucks; No Buck Rogers.

  • northsideGOP said:

    Frustrated voter

    I got news for you, all Oberweis needed was less than 5% of the 18% Brady received. I believe that some of us 32.8% who were obviously not as smart as you 18% didn’t think Oberweis was a kook. It is a good thing you and other Brady voters decided to give the race to Judy Barr. Thanks

  • John Maynard Krebs said:

    Any of the Republican candidates would be head and shoulders above Pat Quinn or Dan Hynes. None of the Republicans is proposing a tax hike.

  • Wow said:

    A Tom Roeser column that is consistent, not all over the place, logical, based in facts, and actually worth reading. True, it’s mostly quoting someone else, but whatever it takes.

    I think this “source” should transcribe all the columns from now on.

  • jfloor said:

    This journalism is incredibly lazy. An entire article quoted from an unnamed source is an embarrassing excuse for news. Hear say is not a reputable way to foster intelligent conversation.

  • Pat Hickey said:

    Jeez, jfloor, this guy from over by Steve’s What’s By White Hen ( a journalist of note) said just the opposite. Good thing this is an opinion column I reckon.

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