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Wanted: Self-funder

Monday, Feb 26, 2007

Eric Krol writes about some unfamiliar but well-heeled names being bandied about for US Senate against Dick Durbin.

A respected Chicago Board of Trade executive from Winnetka and a Long Grove businessman whose family owns the Ben Franklin variety store franchise are among those talking to Illinois Republican leaders about running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin next year.

Both Kevin J.P. O’Hara, the chief administrative officer at the Chicago futures exchange, and Steve Greenberg, the wholesale executive, would seem to have the ability to write a check to cover some or all of the costs of a campaign.

State GOP leaders consider that important in finding an opponent for Durbin, given the political dynamics in play. Whoever runs against Durbin already is getting a late start, a situation made worse by a Democratic plan to move up Illinois’ 2008 primary to Feb. 5 - six weeks earlier than normal.

The practical effect on the political machinery is that candidates could need to file for office as early as mid-October. That means campaign season could start July 4 instead of the traditional Labor Day kickoff. And given federal campaign fundraising limits, candidates already should have started the money sweepstakes.

To that end, Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna Jr. said he’s talked to individuals who could self-fund about challenging Durbin, who’s No. 2 in Senate Democratic leadership.

The others, including Oberweis, Brady, etc. are also included. But what do you think about this unknown self-funder idea?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Scoot - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 7:27 am:

    Its better then what we got…and a new face to the party

  2. - Cassandra - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 8:10 am:

    No Republican in the state can beat Durbin.

    Instead of putting up an unknown businessperson in a Blue state, the Repubs should give some exposure to a younger politician with some name recognition with the goal of expanding that name recognition for future races.

    Unknown self funders can be diastrous even if they have some positives…Jack Ryan being the prime example. They virtually always lie about something in their background which then comes back to haunt them as opposition research gets going.

    If there is going to be a Republican sacrificial lamb, and I guess there has to be, it should be someone already on the Republican political bench whois young enough to have a future. We’ve had the bored businessperson looking for meaning in life…that was Oberweis.

  3. - Suburbanon - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 8:25 am:

    A clear sign of the political apocalypse for the Illinois Republican Party is when they publicly advertise for someone to “self-fund” a challenge to Durbin. Does this mean they simply can’t do it themselves anymore?

  4. - Number 8 - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 8:55 am:

    PLEASE, let it be Oberweis. We have been deprived of him for too long!

  5. - Levois - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 8:56 am:

    What they need to do is get these “self-funder” and have them donate to a candidate who can win.

  6. - Squideshi - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 9:18 am:

    I think that the Republicans, like the Democrats, are targeting the wrong market. They’re narrowly focusing on current, active voters; but that pool is shrinking every year. People are obviously not interested, and I argue that they’re not interested because there’s nothing interesting being offered.

  7. - Honest Abe - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 9:19 am:

    Had Kjellander and Topinka not blocked the bid by Oberweis to replace Ryan on the ballot for US Senator, Obama might still be an obscurity in Springfield and an “adjunct” professor at the University of Chicago (interesting how the media always inflates his teaching position to tenured faculty rather than an academic day laborer). The candidacy of Alan Keyes made Obama’s election a certainty.

  8. - Rich Miller - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 9:53 am:

    ===not blocked the bid by Oberweis to replace Ryan on the ballot for US Senator, Obama might still be an obscurity in Springfield====

    Aside from the fact that Oberweis couldn’t win his primary against Ryan, I really think this revisionist history is silly and should be avoided. Let’s move on before we devolve into a flame war over the milk man.

  9. - VanillaMan - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 10:11 am:

    Overall I don’t think it is such a bad idea.

    In one corner of the boxing ring, you have a Senator who is one of the best political opportunists we ever sent to Washington. He is so good at morphing from one shape into another, and does it so convincingly, he still looks big hearted as he guts you like a fish. He is up there with Clinton as the best faker of sincerity. He has this job for life as long as voters don’t mind a spineless jellyfish who can shed a tear on command.

    The Republicans will need someone as shallow and callous, as morphing and as flexible, with a visage as sweet as one of those big-eyed kids in a black velvet painting. Whoever runs against Durbin will need to know marketing, campaigning, have a first-rate staff, multi millions at disposal, and a hand select group of character assassins.

    If they could find someone with these abilities, they can take Durbin if they can match his oiliness and charm, while convincing voters that they guy they thought they knew really wasn’t who they thought he was.

    I don’t see a regular Republican with these skills. Those I have seen lack the ability to smile, slime and wiggle like Dick can. A successful businessperson can come at Dick Durbin at an angle that understands his market appeal and perhaps defuse it. They could better understand that you have to accomplish two things in 2008 - wreck Durbin’s image by revealing his ugly underneath, and second, sell themselves in a vein that mimics Durbin and betters him by displaying a streak of leadership and courage lacking in the oft-morphing Senator.

    I bet it couldn’t be done. Senators like Durbin either die, retire or get kicked upstairs. He didn’t sell his soul to Satan to lose elections.

  10. - Way Northsider - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 10:37 am:

    Go for it! As a Democrat, I can only say it would make the race even more entertaining. Seriously, the Republicans have to eventually face up to the fact that it is their message that is lacking. That is why they have such a lack of willing messengers. No one sane wants to be a sure fire loser. Before hunting for a candidate the party needs to work out what they stand for and if it has any relationship to what the majority of voters want. Until then, self funders seem to be the way to go - folks driven entirely by outsize egos.

  11. - Dieter - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 10:44 am:

    You can’t put up just another self-funder, but someone who understands the political process.

    The State GOP is lazy, they don’t want to set up a field organization, they don’t want to raise money, and their press presence is next to non-existent. They don’t want to try and settle the rift between the moderate and conservative wings of the party. McKenna has not shown much leadership in this regard. Maybe a change is in order, because this is what a state party chairman has to do to be the leader of his party.

    Therefore, they go out and recruit some multi-millionaire with nothing more than a passing interest in politics, thinking that writing a check or going to a fundraiser qualifies them to run for office.

    Money is important in the IL GOP’s case, but you need to:

    1.) have a farm system where you are making sure that you’re doing everything you can to help your best legislators run state-wide. There are some state senators, including Brady, that would make great statewide candidates. Millner, Murphy, Brady, Althoff, and Dillard come to mind. What is being done to help these people reach the next level?
    2.) Set up a field organization that will help support these candidates.
    3.) make sure everyone has a seat at the table. Don’t shut out conservatives OR moderates. When you work together, everyone wins.
    4.) When you produce some results, better quality candidates will run and people will write checks.

    You need people with legislative records to run. No more Jack Ryans, David McSweeneys, or Jim Oberweises, unless they run for a lower level office first.

    All these guys want to go straight to the top, but they don’t want to do what it takes to get there.

  12. - Team Sleep - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 11:01 am:

    Self-funded candidates are as hit-or-miss as a game of horseshoes or bocce ball. Anyone willing to self-fund his or her candidacy to take on Durbin would have to spend at least $5 million. Durbin has a large campaign coffer and can certainly raise millions more if he wanted.

    I think Oberweis learned his lesson, or at least I hope. The idea that a bench player should run is better than this self-funded nonsense. However, we can’t just throw anyone into the wind; we need a decent candidate. However, it’s safe to assume that many of our players (Radogno, Brady, Rutherford, Dillard) won’t take a stab at it. That leaves us with less to perch our hopes upon.

    I remember the “Death is no excuse! Nixon in 2000!” bumper stickers of several years ago. Perhaps we should do the same but with Everett Dirksen?!

  13. - Shadoobie - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 11:43 am:

    I think the Ill. Republican Party is promoting it because they must have got a taste of that good life with Peter Fitzgerald. They hardly funded Jim Durkin. And now they’re looking to not fund the next candidate.

    Paging Mr. Alan Keys, pick up the red courtesy phone asap. Not.

  14. - i d - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 11:45 am:

    Art thou some god, some angel, or some devil,That mak’st my blood cold, and my hair to stare?
    Shakespeare, William

  15. - Bubs - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 12:01 pm:

    The “fresh face” self-funder is the only way to go.

    It is difficult to see how any current state legislator (Watson, Cross and Lauzen included), or any of The Ususal Suspects (Oberweis, Brady, Birkett, etc.) could hope to win against Durbin.

    The GOP needs an Obama-type “anti-politician”, seen by the public as free from the stigma of Politics As Usual, or (sadly) the Illinois GOP who could attack Durbin on his partisanship, his trial lawyer money, and his frequent Foot in Mouth Disease, demonstrated in so many handy pieces of video footage.

    Follow the Fitzgerald model by defining your opponent and yourself in a barrage of TV ads while hiding from the press, and who knows?

  16. - True Observer - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 12:44 pm:

    Durbin has to get past Gianoulias first.

  17. - Dieter - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 12:47 pm:

    For the record, the Fitzgerald model was different. He spent six years in Springfield, establishing a record as a likeable,
    anti-corruption, common sense social and fiscal conservative.

    He understood that you also had to have some mainstream positions (fairly pro-environment, reasonable restrictions on guns) in order to have appeal statewide. So, when a beleaguered Democrat was vulnerable, he was able to ride on to victory.

    That opportunity doesn’t present itself often, it did in 2006, and the GOP put up a candidate that 61% of GOP primary voters voted AGAINST.

  18. - Truthful James - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 1:16 pm:


    “…The State GOP is lazy, they don’t want to set up a field organization, they don’t want to raise money, and their press presence is next to non-existent. They don’t want to try and settle the rift between the moderate and conservative wings of the party. McKenna has not shown much leadership in this regard. Maybe a change is in order, because this is what a state party chairman has to do to be the leader of his party…”

    Says it all.

    Andy McKenna, aka the great Buddha, really knows nothing and says nothing to energize the party. He was the favored candidate of the past, Thompson and Edgar time.

    Yet he thinks that the position is his by divine right. Of course it helps that the the Central Committee has the same view. Small time machine operators in various counties and people like Skipper Saviano and the ward committeeman Medrano had a say but not the rank and file.

    What Medrano you ask? The convicted Democrat felon who was just kicked out of the Democrat Alderman primary.

    Is this the land of opportunity, or what?

  19. - jaundiced eye - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 1:21 pm:

    Dieter’s 10:44 comments are very much on the mark. Andy McKenna, Jr. is a very nice but unimpressive person when it comes to organizing and leading a group — be it a committee or political party. Perhaps the older leaders of the party assumed his father’s generation would step forward with checkbooks to save the day — but they haven’t and Andy, Jr’s contemporaries see him as weak and indecisive. So there is little inclination on their part to get involved. Plus the party lacks good, professional staffing. JBT used the party as a place to park her staffers in between elections. Because these people lacked campaign experience (or only had an allegiance to JBT),they gave no support or materials to 30 yo professionals willing to write checks, work and walk precincts for both statewide and federal candidates. When you don’t return phone messages or e-mails from motivated volunteers …

  20. - Bubs - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 2:23 pm:


    It all sounds nice, in a perfect world, but the realities are different.

    1. Please give us the short list of GOP legislators who can beat Durbin and self fund.

    2. Fitz ran on his record? Really. I’ll have to let Loleta Didrickson know that. After all, she may finally be done cleaning all of Fitz’s mud off her by now.

    2. If 61% voted against JBT in the 2006 Primiary, then 64% voted against Oberweis. What’s the point?

    3. Blanimg all the ills of the GOP on McKenna is silly, though his leadership leaves a LOT to be desired. How about Kamikazi Conservatives - no blame there? Oh, I forget, they are trying to “save” the party, notwithstanding the fact that half the 2006 primary vote was for moderate candidates. It sounds like Walter Cronkite’s famous report in the Vietnam War, telling America that if the only way to “save” South Vietnam was to destroy it as we were doing, then we had better rethink things.

  21. - Scoot - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 3:22 pm:

    O’Hara for Senate. I like that and think he should run for the nomination.

  22. - Bill - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 6:30 pm:

    i d ,
    Speak English, willya?

  23. - whatever - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 6:49 pm:

    Sort of a false choice is presented here.

    Who is the “bench” candidate? Some third rate State Senator who isn’t up for election next year? Okay, we’ll he or she gets beaten like a rented mule, and doesn’t raise much money in the process. Where’s the gain in that?

    Self-funder gets clobbered too, but hey, maybe the GOP will at least have some new blood who will get some good experience. That’s truly building a bench.

    Better for the GOP in this case to go with the devil they don’t know. The old has-beens don’t deserve another shot.

    If some miracle happens and they find a dead hooker or a live boy in Durbin’s car trunk (probably still wouldn’t be enough to spell GOP victory), at least let the benefit go to some new person who has at least been out in the private sector making jobs, rather than the old crowd that’s been doing nada.

  24. - Chicago Republican - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 6:51 pm:

    What about Tony Peraica?? What about Alderman Dougherty??

  25. - Setting the Record Straight - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 10:51 pm:

    Who ever would self fund themselves against the number 2 democrat in the country that will have Obama at his side the hole race should go ahead and do that. The day after the election they should go and self register at a long term mental health facility. Come on please.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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