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This year’s best test of party strength

Tuesday, Sep 2, 2014

* My Crain’s Chicago Business column

If you’re a committed, socially moderate Republican or a hard-core Democrat, then the Illinois state treasurer’s race is a whole lot more important than you might think.

Don’t yawn. Let me make my case.

Please, click here to read the rest before commenting. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


44 Comments
  1. - too obvious - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 9:40 am:

    Very good column and insights.

    Not to quibble but my only suggestion would be that if Rauner and/or Cross lose it won’t be because social conservatives worked to punish them or stayed home. If it happens I would say it’s because the Dems did their typical better job of getting out the vote in a state with more Dems to begin with.

    But this year every social conservative I know is gleefully following Rauner and Cross without objection. Nice little lemmings they are. So cute.


  2. - Bill White - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 9:41 am:

    I agree with this . . .

    === If Mr. Cross also loses, it will be open season on moderates in the GOP. * * * He voted to legalize medical marijuana, to allow gay marriage and to allow immigrants who enter the country illegally to obtain driver’s licenses.
    * * * Republican legislative candidate recruiters have told me for years how they’ve struggled to find moderates willing to step up and run. Potential candidates are just too intimidated by the far right. ===

    With respect to Tom Cross being a social moderate, I agree completely with your column, Rich.

    However, anyone who runs on a pledge to use the Office of Treasurer as a platform to file a lawsuit to shut down state government is not a moderate - he is a radical.


  3. - Ducky LaMoore - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 9:42 am:

    Hi Rich, you completely left out the fact that Rauner said he would “veto it” in reference to the gay marriage bill. Cranky, old suburban white guys typically are “socially conservative” whether they like to admit it or not. And Rauner, accidently admitted it.


  4. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 9:56 am:

    Yes, Mr. Miller, you are absolutely correct.

    And not only would these win be important for ILGOP, it would be important for the State. Illinois has been suffering not only due to the Democrats holding supreme control over it, the State has been suffering because ILGOP has been in a coma since 2002.

    We cannot have bipartisan solutions acceptable to a majority of Illinoisans when only one party runs the entire state with veto-proof authority. Theoretically, sure - but what we’ve witnessed over the past twelve years has been fiscal insanity and government incompetence, corruption and non-stop scandal which had gone unchallenged until we get the Federal government stepping in. The party in power has had no holds barred and they’ve allowed their own to run amok. If there was another political party alive in Illinois during this time, we would have had an effective brake preventing the worse of what we’ve been through.

    It isn’t a political thing entirely. It is what happens when a government goes single-party, regardless of party.

    Bipartisan government is better government. It is what Illinois has needed for a long time.


  5. - Levois - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 10:02 am:

    I feel like we’re going to see a close election again even in the Treasurer’s race. And if I recall Cross seems to have done much better than Frerichs so who knows that could be an easy pick-up. At the same time it’s just September and fortunes could change at any time.


  6. - walker - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 10:06 am:

    Very smart and insightful column.

    One problem: you assume political parties learn from past mistakes. Not so sure we can count on that.


  7. - A guy... - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 10:13 am:

    It’s very difficult to argue with this essay. It would be heartening to read about what the kooky left fringe has done to the Democratic party. In many cases, the kooks there won seats, something the moderate Dems couldn’t prevent. I don’t think it’s unfair to say the center of the Dem party has moved even further left than the center of the GOP has moved to the right. It’s just not written about often. What you get in that case is what we’ve got now; horrible state government that will take years to fix- and that’s only if we start. Now.


  8. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 10:19 am:

    ===I don’t think it’s unfair to say the center of the Dem party has moved even further left than the center of the GOP has moved to the right===

    Spoken like someone who has never met a House Democrat. lol A bunch of them are “former” Republicans.


  9. - CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 10:21 am:

    This has been a very long, slow exit interview for Billboard “30 Votes” Cross. But a kind Capt Fax wants it to drag on for a few more days.
    Billnoards adds nothing to ticket… err rental team. Mitt Rauner has Durkie with his rental funds flowing through the GOPie state party swamp…Billboards probably opposes Mitt’s Tax Hike plan but cannot speak up for fear that Rauner rents out Feriechs.
    Fire, Aim, Ready


  10. - Toure's Latte - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 10:21 am:

    Frerichs got all his unforced errors out. Now he can start pressing the flesh and show what an affable guy he is. He has to crush it in only two counties, and the Madigan GOTV will carry him along nicely.


  11. - A guy... - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 10:26 am:

    === Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 10:19 am:

    ===I don’t think it’s unfair to say the center of the Dem party has moved even further left than the center of the GOP has moved to the right===

    Spoken like someone who has never met a House Democrat. lol A bunch of them are “former” Republicans.====

    Met plenty of the types you’re describing. Were they really? Or was it a function of where they lived and practicality? It’s semantics, but has the party moved more left or not?


  12. - Rhino Slider - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 10:34 am:

    I think the more serious issue is that if Rauner loses, the ILGOP is virtually dead with no resurrection in sight.


  13. - walker - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 10:45 am:

    A Guy: just my two cents worth

    In my experience since around 1970, the Dem party has definitely moved to the right, just not as fast as the country as a whole, and not nearly as fast as the Republicans.

    Of course there’s a lot of variety in both, and we actually agree on more than we are willing to admit.


  14. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 10:54 am:

    ==What you get in that case is what we’ve got now; horrible state government that will take years to fix- and that’s only if we start. Now.==

    It took years to get to the state it is in now. If you think it was just Democrats you are completely ignoring reality.

    ==t’s semantics, but has the party moved more left or not?==

    I haven’t notice a large move to the left.


  15. - Robert the Bruce - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 10:57 am:

    Enjoyed the column! Potentially 4 socially moderate republican officeholders…I agree republicans should learn a lesson on who they should nominate. But I’m not so sure they would learn that lesson.


  16. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 11:04 am:

    A superb column offering tons of food for thought.

    Way to use the old noggin’.


  17. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 11:07 am:

    The only exception is if Rauner, Cross and Oberweis win.

    Should that happen, all lesson plans reset to 0 lol.


  18. - A guy... - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 11:07 am:

    ===Robert the Bruce - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 10:57 am:

    Enjoyed the column! Potentially 4 socially moderate republican officeholders…I agree republicans should learn a lesson on who they should nominate. But I’m not so sure they would learn that lesson.===

    Bob the B, If they haven’t learned, why are there 4 moderate Republicans in a position to win?


  19. - A guy... - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 11:10 am:

    Walk and Demo, always smart and thoughtful, thanks. Demo, I would add, that in order to execute the map in place now, the Dems have had no other choice than to move noticeably to the left. I would observe that there’s a pendulum on the GOP side of people moving more toward the center. They’re not centrists, but their tolerance is improving regularly. Even Obie’s campaign can be cited for more central movement.


  20. - Robert the Bruce - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 11:13 am:

    ==If they haven’t learned, why are there 4 moderate Republicans in a position to win?==
    Interesting point - perhaps you’re right that they have already learned. But I think Rauner’s money, rather than his moderate stance, led to his nomination. And I don’t think Cross’ nomination was a surprise either. I guess what I’m arguing is that there’s a good chance that having 4 moderate republicans may bring about overreaching (”let’s try some more conservative candidates!”) rather than lessons learned.


  21. - Chef - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 11:16 am:

    Excellent article and accurate.

    I believe there’s an even finer undertone to these races w/r/t the Republican party. The ‘younger’ republican base is more socially moderate than the ‘older’ republican guard. If Rauner loses and potentially Cross, I imagine you’ll have more young republicans become disengaged with political activities. The more “right” the Republicans move on social agenda, the older the supporters will be.

    Frankly, as a ‘young’ republican, I couldn’t care less about gay marriage or smoking pot. Love who you want; plus, there are logical arguments that alcohol is worse than pot. I care more about the millennials’ sense of “entitlement.” We grew up in a culture where everyone was “perfect” and “all-stars.” It taught half of us to demand that same attention when we finally grew up. I have friends who openly state that jobs or positions are “beneath them.” The idea of “paying your dues” is completely gone; everything should be given to them. The other half (republicans and democrats) of the millennials is pissed that the first half won’t buck up and do the work.


  22. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 11:17 am:

    ===in order to execute the map in place now, the Dems have had no other choice than to move noticeably to the left===

    It’s actually the opposite. Look at their candidate recruitment. All centrists or former Republicans.


  23. - A guy... - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 11:17 am:

    We’ll see Bob the B. You raise a good point. The better years behind us had more moderates in statewide office- of both parties.


  24. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 11:17 am:

    …in the House.


  25. - Frankie L - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 11:45 am:

    - Toure’s Latte

    “Frerichs got all his unforced errors out.”

    You really should check out Finke’s column from Sunday. Frerichs is a error machine. I am talking Chuck Knoblauch circa 1999.


  26. - Ahoy! - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 11:52 am:

    Good column, a lot of things I didn’t think about regarding the Republican divide between the moderates and the crazies (conservatives). It’s probably very important to the Republicans to show what kind of candidate can actually win in this state… again. Mark Kirk did that 4 years ago.


  27. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 12:10 pm:

    –I don’t think it’s unfair to say the center of the Dem party has moved even further left than the center of the GOP has moved to the right.–

    You can’t be serious. Is that a gag?

    When did you wake up, Rip?


  28. - A guy... - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 12:14 pm:

    I don’t know Slinger. Take a look see at the legislation that’s passed in the past 2 GA’s. Without passing judgement on right or wrong, I’d say the agenda took a pretty good veer to the left. Pension Reform aside.


  29. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 12:17 pm:

    –I think the more serious issue is that if Rauner loses, the ILGOP is virtually dead with no resurrection in sight.–

    Rauner as savior. Please. Don’t even go there with that hyperbolic nonsense.

    Dems were out of the governor’s office for 26 years. They’re still here. Blago was certainly no savior.


  30. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 12:23 pm:

    A Guy, you’re inspiring. You maintain faith in your beliefs in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

    What legislation are you talking about? Concealed carry? I can see your point. Twenty-five years ago, most Republicans would have considered that a radical concept.


  31. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 12:34 pm:

    Yikes.

    First, to the Post,

    Rich, good stuff.

    The Cross campaign is more critical than the Rauner campaign in my mind, and here’s why;

    Rauner and Cross win, and I am figuring Comptroller Topinka winning until someone can convince me she isn’t the Jesse or Lisa of the GOP this cycle, Rauner’s governing style and manner could actually cripple the ILGOP as his Tom Hagen antics, and threats to MJM and…and GOP Members collectively will grate on all members of the GA, leaving a stain on the GOP that the governor of My Party promised so much, but delivered nothing on empty promises, and attacks any and all, getting nothing done in the meantime.

    Cross winning and Rauner losing, and hoping the HGOP gets out of Veto-Proof…ness(?), and the SGOP making inroads, it leaves Conptroller Topinka, “Treasurer” Cross, and don’t forget Sen. Kirk at the helm, with the GA Caucuses hopefully taking the cue to diversity.

    The party won’t be owned by a Raunerite. There will be no need for the “GOP” governor taking on or out GOP GA members who see the fake governor’s reforms as they are.

    If both Cross and Rauner lose, the shock waves through My Party will lead to such uncivil discourse, the idea of diversity and growth will be destroyed by “must, only, never & always” Those 3 possiblities I see pretty clear outcomes.

    Rauner wins, Cross loses?

    Rauner had the SGOP, Rauner has Durkin’s ear, maybe not his soul, Sen. Kirk is already in the Rauner Camp.

    That is all I know.

    I can’t see how it shakes out as My Party builds around that without Cross in the mix to be another layer, like a Comptroller Topinka, to reach to Reagan Dems and Unions, and in assisting in the true governing.

    Fantastic article Rich. Made me think!


  32. - Ghost - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 12:41 pm:

    Excellent and insightful column.

    I wonder if the GOP will embrace moderates if you get just a cross/topinka win


  33. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 12:50 pm:

    To the discussion,

    ===in order to execute the map in place now, the Dems have had no other choice than to move noticeably to the left===

    Look at the MJM recruiting. The “beauty” of what the HDems have been doing time and time again since 1996 is getting candidates to co-op GOP leaning stances to seem Independent stances in those very specific districts to offset a GOP owning a campaign narrative of “too liberal” and it works.

    ===Dems were out of the governor’s office for 26 years. They’re still here. Blago was certainly no savior.===

    Spot On, and further, - YDD - has said numerous times, which I agree 100% too, is that the works won’t end with either Quinn OR Rauner as governor, but that choice dictates the world and governing and government from the Executive the next 4 years. That’s all.

    ===Met plenty of the types you’re describing. Were they really? Or was it a function of where they lived and practicality? It’s semantics, but has the party moved more left or not?===

    I have met Republicans in that same boat a time or two, but the reality is what Rich is saying in response, I agree, given that veto-proof caucuses had to literally find votes for both SSM & CC, and the Dem Caucus in the House very specifically had conservative members pulling one way the Speaker wanted, and asked for muted talk on SSM, and asking for muted negativity if possible on SSM, while giving those HDems autonomy to be themselves and Democrats too, something My Party, with litmus tests and blood oaths, refuses to see as important.

    The Dems don’t have leaning caucuses, the have diverse caucuses.

    4-62 on SSM is not diverse.


  34. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 12:56 pm:

    ===in order to execute the map in place now, the Dems have had no other choice than to move noticeably to the left===

    You mean the map that expands them further into the suburbs? That kind of “left?” I really don’t get where you’re coming from.


  35. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 1:28 pm:

    == What legislation are you talking about? ==

    SSM, gambling expansion, medical marijuana, no smoking anywhere indoors or outdoors on state campuses, Chloe Stirling’s cupcakes, large tax increase, passing concealed carry only when the court forced Illinois to become the last state to do so, selecting issues such as birth control and a “millionaire’s tax” for ballot initiatives over other issues and any number of budget and committee decisions?

    Even so, Rich’s point is right. The Dem recruits are clearly moderate, and it is difficult to get more extreme than some of the GOP’s Tea Party standard bearers.

    Not to mention that years from now, some of that liberal legislation may seem moderate even if it is a left turn for now.


  36. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 1:33 pm:

    –SSM, gambling expansion, medical marijuana, no smoking anywhere indoors or outdoors on state campuses, Chloe Stirling’s cupcakes–

    That hodge-podge constitutes “left-wing?” Give it up.


  37. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 1:34 pm:

    ===SSM… medical marijuana, no smoking anywhere indoors or outdoors on state campuses, Chloe Stirling’s cupcakes…selecting issues such as birth control and a “millionaire’s tax” for ballot initiatives over other issues===

    All those issues poll pretty high. They’re not left wing. They’re popular. As far as gaming expansion goes, Republicans have voted for every expansion bill.


  38. - Lance - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 1:42 pm:

    the frerich bumblers are at it again…. More unforced errors… should provide for an interesting fall.. http://www.iltruthteam.com/2014/09/mistake-5-were-sure-mike-frerichs-loves.html


  39. - Anon - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 2:23 pm:

    It’s more than ironic that Rep. Cross voted for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, but as Minority Leader, authorized campaign ads attacking Democrats for doing the same thing he did.


  40. - Anon - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 2:30 pm:

    1) Bill Clinton moved his party toward the center.

    2) The new Dem House members from areas formerly represented by Republicans vote very conservatively, moreso than some Republicans who aren’t from swing areas. Those newbie Dems don’t vote for tax or fee hikes, and usually stay away from hot-button social issues, at least unless the issue polls very well in district.


  41. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 3:23 pm:

    == That hodge-podge constitutes “left-wing?” ==

    In that case, I do not know what legislation they were thinking of. That list of low-hanging fruit represented a best guess, which the question mark at the end of the list was supposed to show.

    It does seem many of those “liberal” policies are on their way to being considered “moderate” not just in a few years time, but now.


  42. - A guy... - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 3:38 pm:

    === Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 11:17 am:

    ===in order to execute the map in place now, the Dems have had no other choice than to move noticeably to the left===

    It’s actually the opposite. Look at their candidate recruitment. All centrists or former Republicans. In the House.===

    Hey dude, every day I’m not invited to “bite you” is a victory for me”. lol.

    I’m less worried about the new recruits than the old ones doing the recruiting.


  43. - A guy... - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 3:53 pm:

    FKA, you’re on to something that many of the issues that were more “left” issues have moved closer to the center over a relatively short amount of time.


  44. - A guy... - Tuesday, Sep 2, 14 @ 5:44 pm:

    To add FKA, that means younger GOPers are more moderate. That would square with polls and what I see and hear.


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* Illinois Department of Labor Director Hugo Chaviano Awards Governor’s Award for Contributions in Health and Safety to the Illinois Refining Division of Marathon Petroleum Company LP
* State Regulator Elected Treasurer of Interstate Medical Licensure Compact




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