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Why Pat Brady is walking the plank

Monday, Jan 28, 2013

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Talk to just about any top Illinois Republican these days off the record and they’ll freely admit that they want the bill legalizing gay marriage to be approved as soon as possible.

It’s not that they’re necessarily in favor of gay marriage, mind you. Many of them are publicly and privately opposed.

Some of them do support it, even though they don’t feel they can vote for it because it might destroy their careers in the next GOP primary.

The reason so many Republicans would like to see the bill passed is because they know that with the huge, new Democratic majorities in both legislative chambers, that it’s eventually going to pass anyway.

They want to get this issue out of the way and behind them as soon as possible. The issue is trending hard against the GOP’s historical opposition, and they want the thing off the table before it starts to hurt them.

In 2005, a statewide poll taken for the Illinois Policy Survey by Northern Illinois University found that 31 percent of Illinoisans supported gay marriage, while 34 percent backed civil unions and 29 percent were opposed to any legal recognition.

Five years later, in 2010, a poll by Southern Illinois University’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute found little change in the public’s attitudes — 34 percent supported gay marriage, 34 percent backed civil unions and 27 percent wanted no legal recognition.

But then things began changing fast. By 2012, the Paul Simon Institute’s annual poll had support for gay marriage at 44 percent. Opposition to all legal recognition was down to just 20 percent, while backing for the civil unions status quo was at 32 percent.

A Public Policy Polling survey taken last month had support for gay marriage at 47 percent, with opposition at 42 percent. Worse yet for the Republicans, 58 percent of people under 45 backed gay marriage, while 37 percent were against it. And 54 percent of women backed the idea, compared with 37 percent opposed.

Republicans and Democrats expect this trend to continue. By 2014, people figure that a solid majority of Illinoisans will support gay marriage.

The Republicans don’t want to be on the wrong side of another hot-button issue during the statewide election that year. They also don’t want it coming up in their primary election races that spring.

Except for things such as the state income tax increase, which was designed to be “temporary,” what’s done is usually considered done in politics.

The gay-marriage issue is causing some serious short-term divisiveness within the Republican Party ranks. Social conservatives such as freshman state Sen. Jim Oberweis and former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh have called for state Republican chairman Pat Brady’s head for publicly lobbying on behalf of the gay marriage bill.

The quicker this thing gets resolved, goes the reasoning, the quicker the white-hot war will end and the quicker the party can move along to other, less divisive issues such as taxes.

The Republicans want to make repealing the 2011 income tax hike (from 3 percent to 5 percent) a centerpiece of the 2014 election. The higher tax is set to expire in January 2015, less than two months after that election.

But if the GOP gets too bogged down in too many social issues where they are on the “wrong” side of public opinion, its candidates won’t stand much of a chance.

Anyway, that’s why Brady was sent out to walk the plank on the gay-marriage issue this month. Yes, he does personally support gay marriage, but he undoubtedly wouldn’t have gone so public with his support if party leaders were not encouraging him behind the scenes.

And the party’s top dogs, including U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and its top two legislative leaders, want this thing taken care of so they can move beyond it, even though they may not actually vote for the bill when it gets to the floor.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) will be a “no” vote on the bill, for example, but she didn’t try to stop Brady when he checked in with her before his public support of it.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


32 Comments
  1. - Demoralized - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 10:25 am:

    At least the Republicans are realizing that they are on the losing side of the gay marriage issue and that it would be better to get it out of the way and move on. Unfortunately, the ultra-right wing of the party will always define Republicans when it comes to social issues such as this and will ensure that the Republicans are branded as intolerant on this issue.


  2. - dupage dan - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 10:36 am:

    This May, Ms dupage dan and I will celebrate 30 years of marriage. I only wish the many young straight couples I know who have eschewed marriage as a defunct, useless, institution would cherish it as much as the many folks in the gay community have. But we so often only desire that which we have been denied. Like Coors beer before they sold it east of the mighty Mississippi.


  3. - walkinfool - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 10:39 am:

    ===he undoubtedly wouldn’t have gone so public with his support if party leaders were not encouraging him behind the scenes.===

    Wow. That’s a new perspective for me.

    Might it be national GOP leaders, rather than our crew?

    Is walking the plank, or happily diving in the pool?


  4. - wordslinger - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 10:46 am:

    –Some of them do support it, even though they don’t feel they can vote for it because it might destroy their careers in the next GOP primary.–

    If you can’t vote your conscience on such an issue, you don’t have a “career” to be destroyed.


  5. - shore - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 10:47 am:

    We’re going to start to see Democrats embrace gay rights a lot more strongly in their primaries especially pushing for more rights for that community beyond marriage. One thing we saw for the first time ever I think in American politics was brad schneider on the north shore use gay marriage support in his general election fight with dold as a plus issue for him. There’s an added benefit for Democrats in that younger voters don’t have an issue with it and see Republican pushback as further evidence the GOP is “intolerant” and out of step with them.


  6. - Endangered Moderate Species - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 10:49 am:

    This seems like good strategy addressing a difficult GOP issue.


  7. - Anthony - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 10:49 am:

    Why not hold the gay marriage bill until veto session? The filing deadline for the primary will have passed by then and the handful of Republicans who would like to vote for it will know if they have to protect their right flank against a more conservative opponent.

    Come to think of it, applying the same logic, passing pension reform during veto would protect Dems from a primary challenge as well. But then again, neither gay marriage or pension reform passed during the lame duck session…so I’m probably wrong.


  8. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 10:53 am:

    Just a heads-up that I will not be commenting on this thread today. Therefore, if “someone’s” handle accidentally defaults to Anonymous (as it sometimes does) or another Anonymous appears, it is not me.


  9. - just sayin' - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 10:54 am:

    There are about a dozen reasons why Pat Brady should resign as state chairman. He’s done a horrible job, doesn’t know how to lead or grow a party, and the election results speak for themselves. Funny watching some of the gullible Chicago press giving Brady cover now and all Brady had to do was come out with a phony distraction.

    But while the IL GOP is selling out its platform, why not also throw in the towell on tax increases? The Dems passed the big income tax increase and yet they won huge victories in November. Surely Pat Brady will want to copy that success next since it’s clear all he does is put his finger in the wind and changes course based on the last election. Well the voters spoke on the tax increase just as much as on gay marriage.

    When will Pat Brady give up his obsession with social issues like gay marriage and come out in support of higher taxes? Come on Pat, Republicans await your next sellout.


  10. - Responsa - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 10:55 am:

    This is what politics is about and how politics is supposed to work.


  11. - Responsa - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 11:03 am:

    =Unfortunately, the ultra-right wing of the party will always define Republicans when it comes to social issues such as this and will ensure that the Republicans are branded as intolerant on this issue.==

    And regardless of the facts, you will be right there “ensuring” that all Republicans are branded “intolerant”, won’t you? (Despite getting the outcome you desire on gay marriage with some R support and even many R votes.)


  12. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 11:05 am:

    ===And regardless of the facts, you will be right there “ensuring” that all Republicans are branded “intolerant”, won’t you? ===

    They probably will until the GOP’s center tells the fringe that they won’t be listened to any longer. That’s what the Democratic Party had to do after the McGovern disaster. It took them 20 years to get their far left flank in check.


  13. - ChicagoR - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 11:09 am:

    “Despite getting the outcome you desire on gay marriage with some R support and even many R votes”

    Many R votes? I’ll believe that when I see it. A few, perhaps, but I don’t think anyone is betting on “many”.


  14. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 11:11 am:

    ===But if the GOP gets too bogged down in too many social issues where they are on the “wrong” side of public opinion, its candidates won’t stand much of a chance.===

    Agreed.

    To further the problem, the H&SGOP seem to recruit these “cookie-cutter” candidates, on prpose!

    In some districts, these recruits are a nice fit to the demographics and ideology.

    In this last election, the H&SGOP recruits seemed to stick out so poorly, its like those Republican political aparti are choosing the “worst possible recruit” given the district they are choosing for our nominees.

    Thus, those Senior Politcal Advisors helped get BOTH chambers Veto-Proofed with their “tin ear” recruitment for diverse districts. Recruitment seems to be one of many ingredients missing by these Politcal aparati, among so many missing ingredients.

    Yet, no “public” changes at the Poltical Management level.

    Maybe, and I may be spitballing here, but recruitment, by senoir politcal directors, is clueless in the choosing of winnable candidates, while almost purposely ignoring the Reagan 80% rule for the “rigid Republican”, appeasing some, but losing just the same.

    The SSM issue should not be the “deal breaker”, and if some in the ILGOP … MUST … have purity, we go nowhere fast.

    If Brady is forced out at the points of pitchforks and the light of torches … exclusively… by this SSM issue, we will never seen tolerant. That press release stating the reason for the removal is the SSM issue, then that release might as well be an obituary to the ILGOP’s chances at getting the votes of Moderate Republicans, Conservatve Democrats, and Indies who hate the purity of ANY party.

    Great article, Rich.


  15. - frustrated GOP - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 11:12 am:

    Perhaps some of the leadership of the GOP should consider expanding the base and working to bring people into the primary to dilute the lunatic Right that continues to send forth people Like Joe Walsh. Maybe some of us who have left will come back. The party started to abolish slavery and move forward continues to be caught behind the.
    How else can you explain losing to one party when the State is such a mess under their control.

    Regarding the repeal of income tax, please, let’s understand some math. When at 5% our income tax is below all neighbors and we don’t have enough revenue to pay bills explain where the money is going to come from.
    I don’t like paying it either but someone show me where the money is going to come from.


  16. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 11:27 am:

    I don’t mind the 5% tax. What we really need is a graduated tax.

    And yeah, until I hear of a majority of Republicans coming out in favor of civil rights for everyone, I will consider the entire party to be intolerant.


  17. - Steve Williams - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 11:29 am:

    Perhaps the GOP should just be smarter about taking social issue “off the table.” For example, make all legal unions, civil unions (straight or gay) and allow religious ceremonies, called marriages, to serve as the vehicle to effect a legal union? That way, each religious denomination can decide if they want to perform gay marriage and it’s no longer an issue for the far right nor the far left to beat on the GOP.


  18. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 11:30 am:

    Sorry–one exception to my previous post:

    And what great “cerebral” Republican strategist(s) from the 10th managed to affect this simply because they wanted to “thank” one of their buddies from the 10th and totally failed resulting in Mr. Walsh’s election?

    IMO, this latest one, is just as transparent and brilliant. Just when I thought they couldn’t possibly….


  19. - Demoralized - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 11:44 am:

    @Responsa:

    Thank you for putting words in my mouth.

    Facts are facts. The ultra-conservative wing of the Republican Party speaks the loudest on social issues and, thus (rightly or wrongly), always seems to define the Republicans on social issues. The reason Republicans will be defined as intolerant is because of the nastiness that this wing of the party approaches the gay marriage issue.

    So, I’ll kindly ask you to stop putting words in my mouth and divining what I will do or won’t do. In other words, bite me.


  20. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    ===and it’s no longer an issue for the far right nor the far left to beat on the GOP.===

    Um, no it wouldn’t.

    What would you say to people who didn’t or don’t want to get married in a church? “You’re not really married?” Yeah, vote for that bill and all political problems will magically disappear. You be the one to tell my mom that she isn’t really married, she just had a civil union 52 years ago.


  21. - Responsa - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 11:49 am:

    I may not have expressed well the point I had hoped to make, judging from a couple of replies to my comment @11:03. Please look at it on an individual level. Please look at it on results achieved.

    If those R’s (pols and regular voters) nationally and in-state who increasingly support (or accept) gay marriage are constantly battling BOTH the far social right, as well as strictly partisan Dems who mischaracterize and delight in demonizing and painting all Republicans as neanderthals or “intolerant” regardless of their true stance on almost anything– really where does it get us? Does that hostility enable or improve the chances for reasonable compromise or coalition building on all the other important issues of the day? Neither the left or the right have 20 years to purge the crazies and loudmouths on their far flanks. Not sure it’s even possible in this day and age of the internet. But we can work around them and that’s what I think politics is supposed to be about. I also think we need a functioning two party system, flawed and damaged as it may currently be.


  22. - Steve Williams - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 1:05 pm:

    “What would you say to people who didn’t or don’t want to get married in a church? “You’re not really married?” Yeah, vote for that bill and all political problems will magically disappear. You be the one to tell my mom that she isn’t really married, she just had a civil union 52 years ago. ”

    I would say, that is their choice going forward…get “married” in a religious institution that supports your moral position or not, there’s no difference under the law. Clearly, not getting “married” in a church didn’t minimize your mother’s commitment to the relationship and it didn’t diminish your mother’s legal rights in the eyes of the law either. Just as I don’t feel that I have any less standing under the law because my wife and I were “married” by a JOP. Everyone would be treated the same under the law with their “Domestic Relationship Contract” and the religious right could keep their “marriage” nomenclature.


  23. - Not It - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 1:26 pm:

    Here is a novel idea: If the party’s leadership recognizes that their official position isn’t popular with voters, then maybe they should change their official position. Good for Brady.


  24. - the Patriot - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 1:56 pm:

    The party chair cannot take positions away from the party. If the party is wrong, it is up to him to lead them in the right direction.

    I dispute the proposition that Brady walked the plank. How do you walk the plank on a boat that has already sunk. Brady did not have the guts to lead or quit so he simply walked into the line of fire.


  25. - Chad - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 2:45 pm:

    The Boy Scouts just announced that they will consider dropping their national ban on gays at their national meeting next week. Come on, the GOP better get with it and drop this anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-whatever approach to “building” a majority vote.


  26. - soccermom - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 3:26 pm:

    Steve — We missed that boat about 150 years ago, back when Napoleon made religious marriage subordinate to civil marriage. Now, of course, most European countries require a stop at City Hall on the way to or from the chapel.

    At this point, we have been calling both the civil and religious ceremonies “marriage,” and to change to another model would raise serious hackles. As Rich points out, you don’t get anywhere politically by telling a nice respectable lady that she’s not really married, especially if her kids are big enough to beat you up.


  27. - Deep South - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 3:52 pm:

    I’ve always maintained that the GOP needs to jettison it’s “base”…those extremists on social issues who are really bogging down the party. Then, perhaps, the GOP could move forward and start a new discussion on fiscal matters and other issues that might well attract the fence sitters, the independents and those Democrats looking for a new way to go. Don’t expand the base….get rid of it….and expand rational and responsible discussion. The “base” may well form it’s own, third party, but while they would be loud, I don’t think they’d be viable.


  28. - wishbone - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 4:58 pm:

    “…the quicker the party can move along to other, less divisive issues such as taxes.”

    Laughing through my teeth.


  29. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Jan 28, 13 @ 5:00 pm:

    Steve, do you expect people who stand up in front of a JOP to say they’re not married, but merely civilly unioned?


  30. - Conservative Veteran - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 6:34 am:

    I don’t care whether same-sex marriage is legal, but, if it’s legal, the ceremonies should be performed by judges. No Christian church should consider performing those ceremonies.

    I’ve wanted Chairman Brady to quit, for about three years. I know someone who ran for state rep., and he thought that Chairman Brady would be neutral before the primary. Brady endorsed a candidate, before the primary.


  31. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 11:09 am:

    =…who mischaracterize and delight in demonizing…really where does it get us? Does that hostility enable or improve the chances for reasonable compromise…? Neither the left or the right have 20 years to ***purge the crazies and loudmouths**** on their far flanks. Not sure it’s even possible in this day and age of the internet. But we can work ***around them*** and that’s what I think politics is supposed to be about.=

    Responsa, did you really use the term “purge the crazies,” believing that would somehow help lead to reasonable compromise?

    (Thank heavens for the internet.)


  32. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 11:16 am:

    And “purge…the loudmouths,” too?

    Not overreaching or overbearing at all. I believe that if you were to say that in some circles, it would be considered cause for alarm.


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