The Barbershop has re-located

The proprietor has moved the shop to ChicagoNow, a Chicago Tribune site that showcases some of the best bloggers in the Chicago area. You can logo on to the Barbershop home page here. The ChicagoNow home page is here.

You'll still be able to post comments with the same ease as in this location. The proprietor also will keep this web site alive if you wish to review old posts.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Campaign 2006: Is this all there is?

By Dennis Byrne a Chicago-area writer and consultant

March 20, 2006

If you want to discover how a perfectly healthy pink state turns into a lastingblue one, look no further than Illinois.

For years, Republicans often won statewide and federal elective offices. But thanks to a bungling party "leadership" way out of touch with its constituency, Tuesday's primary election to select a GOP nominee for governor presents voters with indecision, disappointment or disgust. Among the candidates, "I don't know" has made a strong showing.

We columnists have raked this field of candidates to the point of tedium, butwhy not? Why should Republicans be forced to choose among marginal, inexperienced, unqualified or downright deplorable candidates?

State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka is a nice lady, which is exactly what corrupt Illinois government doesn't need right now. I had expected more, but she has done nothing in the campaign to demonstrate that she won't be eaten alive by the greedy pals of both parties who constitute what Tribune columnist John Kass calls the "combine."

Ron Gidwitz, Mr. Inside/Mr. Outside, has been an insider for years, but now vows reform and independence. Judging by his low poll numbers, voters don't buy it, despite an expensive, lengthy TV ad campaign. Sad for him, OK for us.

Conservatives, of course, are engaged in their usual dance of death. They can't agree on a single candidate, so they're forced to choose between two and dilute their strength as a voting bloc. Jim Oberweis, as usual, is running second, but still has the best chance of beating Topinka. For me, he's also best on the issues. Bill Brady, a younger and attractive candidate, can wait
his turn.

Mention must be made of another candidate, the scary Andy Martin (a.k.a. Anthony R. Martin-Trigona), because if I don't he'll probably sue. So, I've mentioned him.

A certain number of dissatisfied Republicans will reject them all and pick up a Democratic primary ballot, motivated by the knowledge that they can get better government by voting for two challengers, Forrest Claypool for Cook County Board president and Edwin Eisendrath for governor. The Claypool vote is especially important because a comatose county Republican Party makes the election of a Democrat nearly certain.

And Republicans in the west suburban 6th Congressional District can do a service by crossing into the Democratic primary to vote for Christine Cegelis, the more likely of two candidates to beat a shameless interloper, Tammy Duckworth. In an incredible act of arrogance, she was imposed on the district by Democratic money man Rahm Emanuel and outsiders who think they know better than the voters who should represent them.

But why should Republicans be forced to play in someone else's sandbox? Why do loyal Republicans have to choose among second stringers? Where are the candidates who stand out because of their superb leadership, integrity, experience and wisdom?

The answer is to be found in a party establishment that is more interested in feathering its nest. The GOP leadership would rather see a Democratic ("someone we can work with") win than an independent Republican.

It wasn't Republican Peter Fitzgerald's conservatism that caused his party's establishment to nix his second term as a U.S. senator. It was his determined independence. He represented his constituents and their interests, and not the interwoven and lucrative interests of Illinois' unitary establishment party. It's why the party opposed him in his 1998 primary race against Loleta Didrickson and tried to undermine his nomination of the fiercely independent Patrick Fitzgerald as U.S. attorney. Peter Fitzgerald, of course, enjoys lasting revenge as Patrick Fitzgerald tracks corruption all the way to the offices of the governor and mayor.

The GOP "leadership" (the ones with the money and power) wants us to believe that they back "moderates" on principle. Hogwash. They don't care about principles, only about keeping power. They'd back Larry, Curly and Moe if they thought they'd win. They need to be reminded that our last Republican senator was a conservative. They'll respond that Fitzgerald "lucked out" because his Democratic opponent was the underqualified and ethically challenged incumbent, Carol Moseley Braun. The GOP establishment will say that the next candidate won't be so lucky in the run against incumbent Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin.

Oh, no? Independent and conservative Republicans will have a better chance of winning--if they start planning together now--against the most extreme and obnoxious senator of them all, Dick the Lip.

Dennis Byrne is a Chicago-area writer and consultant


Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

No comments: