A conservative for Illinois Governor

After that infomercial for party Mandarin Andy McKenna, read about a genuine conservative who will be running in the primary.  The following is from a local newspaper political columnist recent piece.






Illinois government is undeniably corrupt.  “Pay-to-play” flourishes.  Five of the state’s last eight governors have been indicted; and three convicted and imprisoned.  Rod Blagojevich will soon make it four.  Every lever of power in Illinois is controlled by a Chicago Democrat.


State Senator Bill Brady (R-44), of Bloomington, the frontrunner for the 2010 Republican nomination for governor, has a simple solution to all of Illinois’ ills:  Just say “No” to Chicago…and “No” to lawyers…and “No” to Democrats.


In short, argues Brady, don’t continue to let Chicagoans run Illinois.  Elect a Downstater as governor. Elect a Republican as governor.  Elect a non-lawyer as governor.  Restore some sense of balance.


“My polling shows that corruption, not the state’s fiscal crisis, is uppermost in voters’ minds,” said Brady.  “And corruption will not abate as long as a clique of Chicago Democratic lawyers continue to run Illinois.”


But Illinois’ Republican establishment, ever the dunce when it comes to spotting trends, it utterly paranoid about Brady.  They think he is too conservative to win, and is somehow a replication of the much-reviled Jim Oberweis.  Brady has an unabrasive, unobnoxious and longstanding record as a social conservative.  But the insiders’ fear is that Brady will be nominated, demonized, and defeated.


Brady, age 48, is a real estate broker, homebuilder, and state legislator, having served in the Illinois Senate since 2002, and in the Illinois House for 8 years.  He ran for governor in 2006, finishing third in the Republican primary, with 135,370 votes (18.4 percent), in a turnout of 751,627.  Of that number, 138,182 (18.4 percent) votes were cast in Chicago and Cook County, 283,475 (37.7 percent) in the five suburban collar counties, and 329,970 (43.9 percent) in the 95 Downstate counties.  The bulk of Brady’s vote (94,870) came from Downstate.  Judy Baar Topinka won with 280,701 votes (38.2 percent), and second-placer Oberweis had 233,576 votes (31.7 percent).  Of Oberweis’ vote, 90,704 came from Downstate.  The combined Oberweis-Brady vote was 370,946, or 50.2 of the total, and they also amassed a combined 185,574 Downstate vote, or 56.3 percent of the area’s total.


“I will get a significant majority of the Downstate vote,” predicted Brady, “and at least a third of the Chicago-area vote.  I will win.”  That translates into at least 300,000 votes, or just under 40 percent of the total cast.


Brady’s five prospective 2010 primary foes in the fluid primary now include State Senator Kirk Dillard (R-24), of Westmont, a former DuPage County Republican chairman; businessman Andy McKenna, a former state party chairman who got 97,238 votes (14.7 percent) in the 2004 U.S. Senate primary, finishing fourth; DuPage County Board chairman Bob Schillerstrom; businessman Adam Andrzejewski; and political consultant Dan Proft.  All are from Cook or the collar counties.  If they slice up that area’s 421,657 primary vote, then Brady wins.


State Senator Matt Murphy (R-27), of Palatine, who championed the secession of Cook County’s western townships after the sales tax hike, was briefly a gubernatorial candidate; but has withdrawn to run for lieutenant governor with McKenna.  That prompted State Representative Dave Winters (R-68) to opt out and run for re-election.  Murphy faces Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole and attorney Don Tracy in the primary.


“They’re all a bunch of nobodies,” said one Republican political consultant of the governor’s field. “They’re bland.  They’re boring.  They elicit no excitement.  But that doesn’t matter.  If voters don’t want a Democratic governor, then any Republican will win.”


Any election featuring an incumbent is a referendum on that incumbent.  And the recourse of a flawed incumbent is to attack and demonize his opponent, as Blagojevich did in 2006.  The disgraced Blagojevich raised and spent $17 million; to Topinka’s $8 million. We now know how and why Blagojevich was able to assemble that kind of dough.


In 2010, beleaguered Governor Pat Quinn (D) lacks both money and a message.  Quinn must persuade voters that he is not incompetent, not that his Republican foe is an extremist or cretin.  Quinn faces a primary against state Comptroller Dan Hynes (D), who will pummel Quinn’s stewardship. Expect Quinn to win, but not by much – 55 percent at best.  And, unlike Blagojevich, Quinn hasn’t mega-millions in his campaign fund, and will spend $2 million in the primary.  The 2010 election will be all about Quinn, and not about the Republican’s shortcomings.


National Republican strategists, especially the Republican Governor’s  Association (RGA), are anxiously monitoring the November governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey, watching for a trend. In New Jersey, where corruption is endemic and epidemic, Democratic Governor Jon Corzine faces Chris Christie (R), a former U.S. Attorney.  Christie is focusing on corruption, avoiding fiscal and social issues.  In Virginia, former state attorney general Bob McDonnell’s (R) ancient college thesis on abortion has become an issue, and Democrat Creigh Deeds is attempting to portray his foe as an “extremist.”  If Republicans don’t win both races, it will be a bad omen for 2010.


Polling has been sporadic. A recent Dillard survey, which used push-polling techniques and identified Dillard as “Governor (Jim) Edgar’s former chief-of-staff,” gave Dillard 23 percent, to Brady’s 18 percent, with 3.8 percent for Andrzejewski, 2.4 percent for Proft, and 2.3 percent for Schillerstrom. Over 45 percent were undecided.


An earlier RGA poll had Brady leading the pack by 2-1, with about 30 percent.  That prompted an anxiety-attack among the Illinois Republican “establishment,” who are convinced that only a “moderate” Republican, in the vein of Jim Thompson, Jim Edgar and 2010 U.S. Senate hopeful Mark Kirk, can win statewide.


Here’s some early observations:

First, Brady is not a mean-and-angry conservative, like Oberweis. He does not want to roll back the clock, secede from reality, or deport immigrants.  He is articulate, optimistic and likeable.  He opposes any state income tax hike.  He wants to put caps on political contributions, cut the size of the Illinois Senate and House, restore multi-member districts, and limit donations to $2,400 from no-bid contractors.  “I’ve traveled the state for over five years,” said Brady.  “I may not be well-known in the Chicago media market, but I’m well-known Downstate.”  Brady said he expects to raise over $2 million for the primary.

Second, the hardcore conservatives, who are anti-abortion, anti-gun control, and anti-gay rights, are a major component of the Republican base.  In 1992, against President George Bush, Pat Buchanan got 186,915 votes (22.5 percent) in the Illinois presidential primary; in 1996, he got 186,177 votes (22.8 percent).  Oberweis sought statewide office three times: He got 259,515 votes (31.5 percent) in the 2002 U.S. Senate primary, finishing second in a turnout of 825,237; he got 155,794 votes (23.5 percent) in the 2004 U.S. Senate primary, finishing second in a turnout of 662,004; and he got 233,576 votes (31.7 percent) in the 2006 governor’s primary, finishing second in a turnout of 735,810.  That’s an average of 216,295 votes for Oberweis per primary – or roughly a third of the turnout.  Where will that vote gravitate in 2010? Oberweis, from Aurora, spent over $4 million of his personal resources in the three contests, targeting his base.  None of the 2010 Cook County candidates have that self-funding base, name recognition, or issue identification.  The bulk of the Oberweis vote, especially Downstate, will go to Brady.

Third, the DuPage County vote is fractured. The county cast 98,230 Republican primary votes in 2006, 86,993 in 2004, and 126,767 in 2002.  If both Dillard and Schillerstrom remain in the contest, they will split the 100,000-plus votes from their home turf.  To win, Dillard needs Schillerstrom to withdraw, needs Edgar’s endorsement, and needs 80 percent of the DuPage County vote.

Fourth, McKenna needs a rationale for his candidacy.  He is part of a clique of rich white guys who run the party, and he can drop $2 million of his own money into the race.  But he’s running as the “Stop Brady” candidate, and the only way to stop Brady is to go negative and blast Brady as another Oberweis-type loser.  McKenna’s base is in Cook County. His name recognition is minimal, as he demonstrated in his abysmal 2004 primary bid for senator, when he pulled 97,238 votes (14.7 percent).  He has no identification with statewide issues.  He needs to spend his money on a massive TV barrage, hyping himself as the “change” candidate.  He needs to do it soon, before Thanksgiving. And his votes come at the expense of Dillard, not Brady.

And fifth, the Republican “establishment” vote – primarily from DuPage and Lake counties, and the North Shore suburbs – is at least 350,000 in a statewide primary. In 2006, Topinka and Ron Gidwitz got a combined 360,769 votes.  But with Dillard, McKenna and Schillerstrom splitting that vote, none can win.

My early prediction:  Brady will be the Republican nominee.  And, absent any personal scandals, he will be Illinois’s next governor.