Friday, July 16, 2004

Updated July 16, 2004, at 9:30 pm.

State GOP Leaders are now one day past their targeted date to select a Republican U. S. Senate candidate.

Peculiar Local ABC 7 News reporting or peculiar State GOP insiders? Hard to know which it is. Maybe both.

Who is Dr. Barthwell and why did the ABC local television news report yesterday that she was the frontrunner with some party insiders for the Republican U. S. Senate nomination?

ABC 7 News’ Charles Thomas, on Thursday evening’s local ABC 6:00 pm news show, reported that “there are some insiders in the Republican Party who are calling Dr. [Andrea Grubb] Barthwell the frontrunner [to be tapped for the Republican U. S. Senate nomination].” Well, perhaps Thomas and the Republican Party insiders he speaks with are right, but, based on what is known about Dr. Barthwell, that would make the Republican State Party Leadership even stranger than it’s public image, as it bungles even further the Republican senate nominee selection process.

Dr. Barthwell, an African American doctor and 20 year recovering alcoholic and drug addict, held a Deputy Director position in the Bush Administration’s Office of National Drug Control Policy for two years until she resigned last week to ask State GOP party leaders to consider her for the Republican U. S. Senate Nomination.

However Dr. Barthwell seems to be lacking in the key job specifications for the Republican U. S. Senate nomination:

--Ability to self fund? Apparently not.

--Name recognition? Almost non-existent.

--A strong identifiable base of support. No. It has been suggested by various news reports that African American Barthwell would neutralize Obama’s strong support within the African American community. However, Joyce Washington was an African- American candidate in the Democratic Senate Primary who received 350,000 votes in Cook County in 2002 when she came in second in a three way race for Lt. Governor and therefore might have been expected to win a significant portion of the African American base when she ran in the Democratic Senate Primary. But, Joyce Washington did not do so in the Senate Primary, as Joyce barely registered a point or two, over-all. No reason to expect dramatically better results with African American voters for the unknown Barthwell in a general election contest with Obama.

--Attractive on the issues important to the Republican Party Base and able to attract swing votes. Based on sketchy information, so far- it appears that Barthwell is neither.

--Has some Political Experience: Essentially, Barthwell has none.

--Prior support for the Republican Party: Barthwell has voted in Democratic primaries until recently and has given campaign contributions to such Democrats as Mayor Daley and Cong. Jesse Jackson, Jr., as reported by CBS 2 News’ Mike Flannery.

In addition to the above obstacles to a Barthwell Republican Senate candidacy, it transpired in an AP story that appeared on-line several hours before Thomas’ above referenced television report that a government report, following the filing of a grievance by one of Barthwell’s staff members, characterized Barthwell as engaging in “lewd and abusive behavior,” at a staff gathering [birthday party] while Barthwell was at the Drug Policy office. The report was prepared in response to the filing of a grievance by a staff member. Thomas made no mention of this government report.

Barthwell, a frontrunner for the Republican Senate nomination? That would indeed seem odd. But, then again, no more so than many other things with the current Republican Senate nomination process.

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of “Public Affairs,” can be reached at