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Republican Day notebook…

Friday, Aug 17, 2007

* Like I told you yesterday, there wasn’t much news generated at Republican Day, but reporters did their best to write something relevant. Abdon Pallasch (the Sun-Times’ new political writer) had the best lede by far…

Forced to cling together under “one big tent” by a thunderstorm at the state fair Thursday, Illinois Republicans said state Democrats’ disunity would clear the GOP’s way back to relevance in the next election.

“I have no doubt none of us will be booed today the way the Democrats boo their own leadership,” U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood said.

“This big tent is what carries us to election victories,” U.S. Rep. John Shimkus said, referring to the philosophy that the party should welcome supporters of different views and backgrounds.

* Despite the optimism, however

But officials acknowledged the party has its own troubles, too.

Many people are unhappy with President Bush’s handling of the Iraq war. Closer to home, some key Republicans are retiring from Congress and the General Assembly, meaning the party must fight to keep those seats before trying to pick up new ones.

“It creates a challenge,” said Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego. “To be blunt about it, we’ve got to first hold before we can start playing offense, and that becomes a money issue.”

* Daily Herald

The day was devoted to Republicans, but the state’s Democratic leaders got plenty of bashing. Democrats had their state fair day on Wednesday. It was marred by infighting and at one event, Democratic Comptroller Dan Hynes offered an apology. That wasn’t lost on Republicans.

“Like Dan Hynes, I want to apologize for the Democratic Party,” House Republican Tom Cross of Oswego said.

Still going: Few lawmakers attended either the Republican or Democratic rallies, largely because after more than two months in overtime budget session, they wanted to get out of Springfield.

“I never imagined I’d be coming straight over from session to the state fair,” said state Sen. Christine Radogno, a Lemont Republican. “We need some partisan balance in Illinois politics. If there’s any doubt about that, just look at what went on last session.”

* The Tribune compared yesterday’s GOP presidential straw poll to Iowa…

Although more than 14,000 votes were cast in the Iowa straw poll, only 922 ballots were cast at the Illinois event, which was held in rainy weather as part of Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair.

* Then again

Illinois isn’t Iowa, where the first in the nation real voting takes place next January, so the closest thing to a candidate at the fair Thursday was Chicagoan John Cox, who says he is running but can’t even get on the straw poll ballot because this campaign is not being taken any more seriously than his recent races for US Senate, Congress, or the Cook County recorder of deeds.

* Funniest story of the day from a GOP poll-watcher at the Fair: “A woman came up to vote in the straw poll and asked me what name was on her shirt.” The name? Mitt Romney. Lots and lots of ringers for that guy yesterday.

* The more important vote may have been the one by the Republican County Chairmen’s Association earlier in the day…

Members of the Illinois Republican County Chairmen’s Association, meeting at the Crowne Plaza, had a secret-ballot poll of their own. Thompson got the most support with 22 votes, followed by 13 for Giuliani, nine for Romney, two for Huckabee, one for Hunter and one for McCain.

* Cross explains Giuliani’s miserable straw poll showing

Other campaigns chose not to do that. State. Rep. Tom Cross, the Illinois House Republican leader from Oswego, is the chairman of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s campaign. He recently told reporters he did not plan to bus in supporters or otherwise try to manipulate the outcome. On Thursday, Cross downplayed the event’s significance in the 2008 presidential race.

“I think this straw poll, and I applaud Andy for doing it, but I think without the candidates here, it doesn’t have the same meaning or the same significance like you saw in Iowa. But it’s a starting point,” he said.

* The Ron Paul folks added a lot of color

Just before state GOP chairman Andy McKenna announced the results from the podium at the Director’s Lawn at the fair, sign-carrying supporters of Paul, who has developed an Internet-driven following, traded chants with the gathered supporters of the ultimate winner.

And shortly after Thursday’s program, Republican Day at the state fair, some state troopers calmed participants in a disagreement spurred by Paul supporters waving their signs behind the heads of Craig Romney and Illinois Romney chairman Dan Rutherford, a state senator from Chenoa, during TV interviews being done away from the stage.

* More Paul stuff

Paul’s libertarian stylings and campaign of strict interpretation of the Constitution has earned him an unorthodox band of sign-carrying supporters. They frequently interrupted TV reports of the event and at one point, Romney’s Illinois chairman, state Sen. Dan Rutherford (R-Chenoa), ripped a sign out of one Paul supporter’s hands and threw it on the ground.

* Hot dog and beans? Not exactly a State Fair tradition. Then again, Mitt Romney’s son Craig, who was in Springfield yesterday, is from Beantown

He also grabbed a hot dog and beans and washed it down with lemonade.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - VanillaMan - Friday, Aug 17, 07 @ 10:55 am:

    “In 1930, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in an effort to alleviate the effects of the… Anyone? Anyone?… the Great Depression, passed the… Anyone? Anyone? The tariff bill? The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? Which, anyone? Raised or lowered?… raised tariffs, in an effort to collect more revenue for the federal government. Did it work? Anyone? Anyone know the effects? It did not work, and the United States sank deeper into the Great Depression. Today we have a similar debate over this. Anyone know what this is? Class? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone seen this before? The Laffer Curve. Anyone know what this says? It says that at this point on the revenue curve, you will get exactly the same amount of revenue as at this point. This is very controversial. Does anyone know what Vice President Bush called this in 1980? Anyone? Something-d-o-o economics. “Voodoo” economics.”

  2. - VanillaMan - Friday, Aug 17, 07 @ 11:00 am:

    “Anyone still awake out there?”
    “In 2007, the Illinois Republican Party held a poll, anyone know what kind of poll?” “Anyone?”
    “A straw poll. It was won by a former governor of which state?” “Anyone know which state? It is known as the Bay State. Witches were drown at Salem there?” “Anyone? Massachusetts. Which former governor?”
    “Romney - Mitt Romney.”
    “Anyone remember him?”

  3. - ChiCountryGuy - Friday, Aug 17, 07 @ 11:06 am:


    I think you left out the funniest part of GOP Day. Were you there when Nalepa led the GOP breakfast in a fake prayer meant to mockingly honor Elvis? No one laughed, and everyone looked around the room at each other asking if this guy was serious.

  4. - Captain America - Friday, Aug 17, 07 @ 11:16 am:

    Speaking as an objective observer, I just can’t figure out why Republicans are attracted to Fred Thompson. He just seems like a “none of the above” candidate without much real appeal to the general electorate. In my opinion, he’s a poor excuse for a supposed saviour for the national Republican Party. I can’t see how he would even make a respectable showing in the Chicago metropolitan area - city or suburbs aganist any Democratic nominee. Maybe Republicans are betting on the effectiveness of an “anybody but Hillary” strategy.

  5. - Levois - Friday, Aug 17, 07 @ 11:22 am:

    I guess the only news there was the straw poll.

  6. - cermak_rd - Friday, Aug 17, 07 @ 11:56 am:

    I found the next sentence in the Sneed column a little odd, the one about him being a Mormon and not touching the beer. It seemed out of place in the column, an attempt to focus on the Romneys’ religion unnecessarily.

    Ron Paul’s supporters don’t seem to know IL law regarding signage. I’ve passed Ron Paul 2008 signs that are attached to speed limit signs on the Mannheim exit of the Ike. I’m pretty sure that’s a no-no. I’m so tempted each and every time to take a magic marker and vandalize them to read RuPaul 2008. If RuPaul would run, it would at least enliven the field.

  7. - Captain America - Friday, Aug 17, 07 @ 11:58 am:

    Anonymous 1818

    I’m not partucularly fond of political correctness, but your commnet on the Sneed item is ridiculous, if not worse.

    Rich,I suggest you consider deleting the Anon 18 comment.

  8. - Anonymous - Friday, Aug 17, 07 @ 6:16 pm:

    Republicans are probably attracted to Fred Thompson not because of anything he’s done in office, but because the roles he’s played portray a tough guy who loves his Country, doesn’t apologize for the power our Country enjoys, and wants to make sure that we continue to enjoy what we have here.

    Kind of refreshing in a time when it seems that everyone–inside our Country–think we’re a bunch of bullies who need to give everything we’ve worked for away to the rest of the world.

  9. - Anonymous - Friday, Aug 17, 07 @ 6:34 pm:

    And that’s not to say we’re going to vote for the actor. We’re just sending a message that we like the image.

  10. - steve schnorf - Friday, Aug 17, 07 @ 8:09 pm:

    Part of Tompson’s appeal is the same as Reagan’s. It’s why Johnny Fever was such a good disc jockey on “WKRP”. Any skilled actor, with a good writer, can play a role far better than a real person trying to actually live the role.

  11. - Reality Check - Saturday, Aug 18, 07 @ 9:06 am:

    Tom Cross’ comments regarding the departure of several key Republicans from the General Assembly should be of no surprise to him. Why? Because he took a golden opportunity to show real strength and leadership (during one of the few moments he has genuinely had the opportunity to do so) and squandered it away during this budget battle. “Leader” Cross chose to hitch his wagon onto Mike Madigan’s horses the same guy who runs the Democratic Party in this state. Cross has allowed himself to be seen as manipulated and controlled by the Speaker of the House, when he should have been looking for an opportunity to look tough, strong-willed, and independent of the Speaker.

    As a result his own party members in the House have recognized his weak and ineffective leadership and has quickly resolved that not only will he NOT be the man to ever win back the House for the GOP, but he is quite comfortable being the #2 guy in the House. By the way, that’s #2 only if you are going by titles only; I actually see Skip and Beaubien as better leaders. It should be no surprise to anyone that most of the GOP members who have announced their retirements did so during the overtime session, they have seen for them selves that Cross, while a nice and somewhat popular guy, just doesn’t have what it takes to lead the GOP in the House. But Cross shouldn’t feel too bad, he has plenty of company with the GOP “Leader” in the Senate who allowed himself to be manipulated by the Speaker as well.

    It should be no surprise to anyone when the majorities in the house and senate will probably grow after next November, despite the Democrats problems.

  12. - Annonymous - Monday, Aug 20, 07 @ 9:50 pm:

    Oh dear…looks like image probs for everyone this time round. This one’s going to be determined by the ladies…and it’s going to get ugly for all the wrong reasons.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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