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Highly doubtful

Monday, Sep 23, 2013

* Greg Hinz

The question is whether any of the four GOP candidates for governor has the guts to make a serious play for them—not just in the November 2014 general election but in the March Republican primary.

If Mr. Quinn is the standard-bearer of the Democrats’ liberal and minority base, Mr. Daley is a card- carrying member of its more centrist, pro-business wing—hundreds of thousands, or maybe millions, of voters who consider Republicans cavemen on social issues but fear that Mr. Quinn either can’t or won’t keep what’s left of our economy from melting away.

Those voters now are up for grabs, be they soft Democrats or true independents. And if a Republican is going to win the governor’s mansion in this solidly blue state, he has to bring them over.

I spent much of the week talking to GOP insiders about whether any of the four is willing to roll the dice in hopes of luring, say, an extra 100,000 or so soft Democrats/independents into a GOP primary that likely will pull only 750,000 or so voters. Almost all of them say their advice would be not to risk straying from the party’s mantra: No new taxes, curbs on union powers and pensions, no gay marriage, gun rights and as many limits as possible on abortion.

“People are looking for a strong leader, someone with a message they’re willing to articulate,” Wheaton-based strategist Dan Curry says. “I think someone with a strong conservative message can win in the general election.”

* The much-vaunted, Rush Limbaugh-inspired Republican crossover vote in Texas and Ohio didn’t do nearly as well as some people believed at the time.

But Michigan’s 2000 presidential primary is often pointed to by people who think that enough Democrats can successfully be lured into voting for Republicans. John McCain got a lot of Democratic votes that year against George W. Bush. Democrats comprised about 17 percent of the total GOP primary vote that year and 14 percent of the total went to McCain.

But Michigan’s governor at the time, refused to use that pursuit of Democrats against McCain

In a brief interview, Mr. Engler said he regretted not advising Mr. Bush to advertise here that Senator John McCain was appealing to Democrats for support. ‘’We could have gone right at the fact that Senator McCain was making such an explicit pitch, reaching over to the most partisan Democrats, and therefore the least likely ever to become Republicans,'’ he said. ‘’You could have gone to the Republicans in the Republican areas of the state and sort of exposed that directly.'’

If a Republican candidate here tried to do the same thing, it would definitely be used against that person with hardcore GOP primary voters and it could cost that candidate dearly. It would be definitive proof that the candidate is a RINO.

And, as Hinz pointed out, nobody appears willing to take that step here - not yet, anyway, and most certainly not openly.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - VanillaMan - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 11:14 am:

    Quinn is running for reelection, and looks like he’s got the nomination of the dominant majority party. Quinn isn’t much, but he’s got that much going for him.

    His opponent has to show that he has no fangs, no disrespect towards others different than he, capable of blunt honesty and charm, and take the Race into the Loop without looking like an Amish farmer at Cape Kennedy.

    Whoever can do the closest impersonation of Chris Christy will win.

    I don’t see anyone doing anything like that.

  2. - The Captain - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 11:15 am:

    Corinne Wood tried a version of this strategy in the 2002 Republican primary for Governor and finished third out of three. That was a little bit different in that there was a competitive Democratic primary so it was harder to draw Democrats into taking a Republican primary ballot but it was still a much hyped and failed strategy.

  3. - AlphaBettor - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 11:23 am:

    In Michigan, the Democrats voted for McCain not because they liked him, but because they wanted to embarrass Gov. Engler.

  4. - Roamin' Numeral - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 11:23 am:

    ==the party’s mantra: No new taxes, curbs on union powers and pensions, no gay marriage, gun rights and as many limits as possible on abortion.==

    Might be time for a new mantra. As mantras go, that one doesn’t seem to be working too good.

  5. - Downstater - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 11:24 am:

    There are enough moderates on social issue who are conservative on fiscal issues to elect the right candidate in the Republican primary. Right now the vast majority of Republican primary voters have no idea who is running.

  6. - Chris - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 11:31 am:

    There is a way to dance the line of avoid apostasy on the ‘mantra’ issues, while de-emphasizing everything other than the budget/pension/gernal-economic issues.

    Not sure any of those 4 guys can do it, but it is possible.

  7. - Will Caskey - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 11:41 am:

    Let me put it this way. Once a staffer of mine wanted to pull a GOP ballot in the primary, because some race she was following interested her. So she did…and the rest of the races were alien gibberish to her and many of them only featured candidates she found deeply offensive. It never happened again.

    That’s what you’re asking a crossover voter to do. A GOP gubernatorial candidate (or for that matter, a hypothetical Democratic one looking to do the reverse) wouldn’t have to just appeal to Democratic primary voters, s/he’d have to be a Democrat, and an INSANELY popular one at that. You’re asking fervent partisans with deep-seated, passionate beliefs to set all of their beliefs aside and go on record supporting a party they deeply loathe.

    That’s kind of a big deal and people who talk about crossovers don’t usually consider it.

  8. - walkinfool - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 11:44 am:

    ===stick with the party’s mantra===

    Too bad that the appearance of strength and consistency in messaging, trumps the content.

  9. - Levois - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 11:44 am:

    Again the term “RINO” is frustrating especially in a state like Illinois where Republican seem to have a great traction to not go anywhere. If there’s no room in the tent for anyone outside of your ideology how welcome are you.

  10. - Sir Reel - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    If the Republicans nominate Brady 2.0, the result will be the same as 2010. Hopefully there’s enough disgruntled Democrats willing to vote in the Republican primary to nominate a candidate who can win. As a former non-union State employee subject to reappointment who couldn’t vote in primaries for 25+ years, I’m looking forward to voting in primaries, both Democratic and Republican.

  11. - wordslinger - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 12:14 pm:

    –Mr. Daley is a card- carrying member of its more centrist, pro-business wing—hundreds of thousands, or maybe millions,–

    What in the world is this guy talking about?

    If Daley was part of an Illinois Democratic party “wing” that had “maybe millions,” don’t you think he’d still be in the race?

    For crying out loud, how many Illinois voters does he think there are?

    In 2010, 915,000 voted in the Dem primary; 3.4 million voted in the Illinois general.

    Daley is part of a party “wing” that has “maybe millions?”

    Get back in the race, Bill, and start measuring the drapes; you’re a shoe-in.

  12. - Pandora - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 12:14 pm:

    I am a liberal democrat, who is longing to vote for a centrist Republican against Quinn. Sadly, Quinn, who I had hopes for, has proved that he is incompetent. The far right social platform of the Republicans is one I can’t support…so I suspect Quinn will be re-elected, which is a shame. I was hoping to vote for Daley or Madigan. It isnt the primary thats the real issue, its whether Republicans can stop the suicide march.

  13. - Shore - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 12:41 pm:

    I like Greg Hinz, but the problem with his take on the republican party like pretty much every other chicago pundit not named proft or kass is that he just doesn’t try or even pretend to immerse himself in the thinking/worldview/culture of today’s republican party. This is also because he lives in chicago where I doubt he converses/socializes/interviews much the tea party power base of the party. Had he, he would understand that outside of mark kirk and a random state rep or 2 in california virtually no republicans in the country right now think like this or have any inclination of trying to do this. The party and by party I mean conservative movement wants to win on its terms. They’re not interested in RINOing to get whatever it takes to get that vote that will put them over the top. They’re interested in getting the right argument, the right person to make it and then letting the rest sort itself out.

    Look at the campaign pollak ran in evanston in 2010. Heavily liberal area, vulnerable incumbent, pollak made not one overture to the center. He ran in your face conservative politics and actually made her campaign. That’s what the party wants/lives for right now and why it won’t make a play like that.

  14. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 12:41 pm:

    ===- Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Sep 18, 13 @ 11:27 am:

    Who is going to ID these Dems, vote them in a way to have an impact, and have the COURAGE to court in Chicago and Cook specifically, in this Dopey climate, the Dems TO cross over as an overt strategy, including GOTV of identified Dems to pull GOP ballots.

    Odds are, sadly today, I have no clue if any of the 4 can control their own turnout of Pluses in a GOTV, with or without adding crossover Dems, which is a snall window that history has shown.===

    Stand by this Post.

    The real primary (no pun intended) crux for any of these campaigns is;

    Who can find their own GOP voters control them … and vote THEM.

  15. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 12:59 pm:

    ==I am a liberal democrat, who is longing to vote for a centrist Republican against Quinn.==

    For a lot of people that person was Kirk Dillard, but we all know what’s happened to him since the spring of 2010.

  16. - Rich Miller - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 1:17 pm:

    ===He ran in your face conservative politics and actually made her campaign.===

    And got 31 percent of the vote.

  17. - Anonymous - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 1:44 pm:

    “The party and by party I mean conservative movement wants to win on its terms. They’re not interested in RINOing to get whatever it takes to get that vote that will put them over the top.”

    And thats why they will continue to be the minority party in Illinois. If they think they can win a majority by sticking to hard core conservative principles, they are the delusional ones. Say what you want about the Dems, but they are a very, very diverse caucus that has shown to be competitive (almost) everywhere in the state.

  18. - votecounter - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 1:47 pm:

    The problem with getting cross over votes in the primary for Republicans is Cook is the only county that has enough voters to make any kind of difference. Most people know from either experience or the old Chicago loar, if you want or need anything from your government you had better of pulled a Democrat ballot in the primary. It’s just that simple, business owners and homeowners know it is just easier to do that then risk having the county/city government come down on you. Look at the numbers in the general elections. It’s not that people like or believe in their Democrat overlords but that’s the way it is.

  19. - Joe Bidenopolous - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 2:20 pm:

    I just wrote a rant. I liked it, but I’m going to refrain from posting it. Anyway, it got me thinking.

    When are we, as a society, going to acknowledge the truth and brand Republican “social” issues for what they are - Republican religious issues that they’re trying to impose on the rest of us?

  20. - Frustrated Republican - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 2:37 pm:

    If Pope Francis can announce that the 2,000-year-old institution of the Roman Catholic Church risks collapsing “like a deck of cards” if it continues to define itself primarily by its opposition to abortion, contraception and gay marriage, perhaps the Republican Party (both locally and nationally), might benefit from a similar epiphany.

    One need not personally approve, or support, any of those three. But one risks irrelevance in the public square by ignoring the collective pronouncement of an overwhelming majority of citizens. Namely, that they are content to let individuals decide for themselves their positions on these issues without interference from their church, government, political party, or fellow citizens.

    Illinois voters want elected officials who show a commitment to solving rather than compounding problems. Not insignificantly, the State of Illinois, like the City of Chicago, is insolvent. Both need to be put on a course toward sound financial footing, but no plans have been offered, no solutions suggested, no leaders have emerged. Governor Quinn is perceived as entirely ineffectual and both Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton appear content to engage in the self-dealing of retaining power for no apparent purpose other than to retain power. Neither has presented a serious proposal to begin to end the state’s economic crisis.

    On the local level, no one yet trusts Rahm Emanuel. His failure to present a comprehensive analysis of the city’s challenges – including its budget, failing schools, and violent crime – and his failure to offer a detailed plan for addressing those challenges, makes him appear like he’s governing by the seat of his pants. He does not yet have reserves of goodwill – beyond being the strongest Democrat in a solid Blue State – to draw upon. His public personae as mayor has been defined by a heavy-handedness that make many believe he’s merely an ersatz version of his predecessor. Whether the gamesmanship he’s shown with the Inspector General, his less-than-transparent Infrastructure Trust, the multiple unilateral pronouncements for or against new revenue (casinos, speed cameras, privatization of city assets), and his allowing himself to get rolled by Karen Lewis for the sake of avoiding a political showdown before a national election (as if anyone could conceive a way by which Mitt Romney could have won Illinois in 2012), make most think he’s not serious about making hard decisions to effect a comprehensive vision for the city.

    Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, and Dan Rutherford have been defined by their “small ball” past. While the latter two have an air of being adequate administrators, none offers a vision capable of persuading either voters’ heads or hearts, or even that imply they might be effective leaders. They smile, they wave, they speak of competence, presuming that they could be were they the state’s chief executive, but they engender neither inspiration nor loyalty.

    Today, from here, only Rauner looks like he might be different. But is he? Is he serious? What’s his vision? What does he propose to do – and how? And is he prepared to lead, to persuade, to set aside the polls and the pols to speak plainly, directly to voters to achieve it?

    And as for the suicidal Republicans in Washington, how well did shutting down the government work for Newt Gingrich? By all means they should do what they can to stop Obamacare, but that’s done best by winning elections, not by giving voters reasons to fear Republicans will drive the country over a cliff for the sake of “principle.” All that that will do is delay Republicans’ return to power and ensure a long life for Obamacare.

    I don’t know what Republican candidates and officeholders (local and national) are thinking. I only know that what Chris Robling told Greg Hinz is correct: if the Republicans offer more of the same to the voters, the voters will give them more of the same. And neither will be happy.

  21. - chris robling - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 3:21 pm:

    what i see above is pretty tired, shop-worn and inadequate. it will bring defeat, just ask our last gubernatorial “campaign manager.”

    what we need is a new balance, in which no single republican is asked to retreat on any given issue, but all republicans determine that winning — on our terms, on our issues — is more important than their pet issue leading the party parade.

    we must stop spending into our first bankruptcy since 1842.

    we must stop taxing our way to a smaller economy with fewer jobs, less growth, dwindling income, net dis-investment and de-population.

    we must halt wasting precious dollars in efforts to serve democrat constituencies at the expense of public goods, and leaving would-be beneficiaries unhelped.

    we must regulate to welcome businesses as partners in creating the new illinois, not to punish them as adversaries available for contributions and taxes.

    we must appeal to folks in every neighborhood of illinois, from golconda to galena and lawndale to lawrenceville with a message of hope and determination to explode madigan’s boot of oppression, and to return to them their rightful future — as illinoisans — of prosperity and security.

    if someone thinks this agenda makes its adherent a rino, then i am happy to debate them any time.

    if we do it like we have, we will lose.

    if we hedge and muffle, shuffle and mumble, as at least three of our four candidates are doing right now, then we appear tepid imitators of the big brother oppressors. we will lose.

    people want a champion whose leadership is rooted in identity with their problems and lived reality.

    p.s. all lt. gov. candidates should dedicate their campaigns to abolishing the wasteful and unnecessary office and all its wasteful and unnecessary spending.

    cheers, c

  22. - 47th Ward - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 9:24 pm:

    Chris Robling, thanks for not misusing the all caps feature as some do on rants, but I have to say, your rant could use just a little capitalization (at the start of each sentence for example). Also, my party should be referred to as Democratic, as in “Wasting precious dollars in effort to serve Democratic constituencies.” You’re a smart guy, you understand punctuation and grammar, this should be easy for you.

    The rest of your claptrap is simply that. Meaningless rhetoric. Feel free to tell us which dollars are being wasted on Democratic constituencies at the expense of the public good. Welfare? Healthcare? Please spell it out for us instead of speaking in dog whistle code.

    “People want a champion whose leadership is rooted in identity with their problems and lived reality.”

    That sounds rather profound and nice, but what the heck is it supposed to mean? Pat Quinn probably thinks you’re talking about him.

    Up your game Chris. You are what passes for an intellectual among Illinois Republicans. This isn’t Illinois Review or Beyond the Beltway.

  23. - Chris - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 10:06 am:

    ” Please spell it out for us instead of speaking in dog whistle code.”

    Why would he want to risk being called a RINO?

  24. - low level - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 6:35 am:

    Yes, Mr. Robbling. I agree completely. All of my neighbors downtown, who have voted Democratic for years but are very very tired of Quinn, are looking for a strong conservative that does not vary one bit from the right on all the issues of the day. That is exactly it.

    I feel that if the IL GOP follows your strategy, you will see a truly historic realignment in 2014… I don’t know why it hasn’t worked before, but it is sure to carry the day this time.

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