Sunday, August 01, 2004

Updated August 1, 2004, 2:00 am

Then there were nine potential Republican U. S. Senate candidates. Look what I found, Ma, another Republican candidate for the U. S. Senate- State Rep. Roger Eddy (R-Hutsonville). Another Berkowitz Scoop of the mainstream press. And Gorman and Plummer look to be on Top, so to speak.

The buzz in the last few days has been all about Liz Gorman, rookie Cook County Commissioner, moving to the top of the State Central Committee list of candidates to replace Jack Ryan as the Republican nominee for the U. S. Senate. Still hanging in there as an option is the man with 4 million dollars, or so, to self-fund, Robert Plummer. No one seems to know or is able to discuss much about these two candidates’ views other than to tell us that Liz is Pro-Life, seems to be siding with those on the County Board who want to keep taxes and spending down and appears to be a protégé of Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Maureen Murphy and Family-Pac Executive Director Paul Caprio. As to Plummer, it is just “Show me the money,” so far. You can call these two the tier one candidates.

Why are Gorman and Plummer in the top tier. For Plummer, it is obvious. For Gorman, the cynics say she is not a threat to Judy Baar Topinka, has some advantages from being a female (more on this in subsequent blog entries), does not have much baggage, is conservative enough to allow the conservatives to be blamed when she loses, and is thought to be a safe choice for the State GOP Leadership Triad, even though she will surely lose. [Of Course, Jack Ryan will get most of the blame from the Leadership Triad and its allies, the mainstream press- especially, of course, the Chicago Tribune].

Falling out of favor have been General John Borling (2%, or about 12,000 votes in the March, 2004 primary), John Cox (3rd place finish out of three in 2002 Senate Primary, dropped out of 2004 Senate Primary) and Jim Oberweis (2nd place finish out of three in 2002 Senate primary; 2nd Place finish out of eight in 2004 Senate Primary, but annoyed Speaker Hastert and perhaps Karl Rove by criticizing Bush’s immigration policy and with his harsh statements and ads regarding same. Joining this group a little more publicly today is Rep. Eddy. (More on Rep. Eddy, below). Eddy has not sought to publicize his candidacy and for inexplicable reasons, neither has State Party Chairman Topinka. You can call these four the tier two candidates.

Rounding out the group of candidates, as we know it, is Orion Samuelson (the WGN Farm Report guy), Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria (1%, or about 6, 000 votes in the March, 2004 Senate Primary) and Dr. Andrea Barthwell (former DC Government Deputy Drug Czar with questionable Republican credentials, who has had her own recently disclosed sex scandal). You can call these three the tier three candidates.

Chairman Topinka has said there are 10 to 12 candidates, but so far, only the above nine names are public, with Eddy’s only being public on this blog.

State Rep. Roger Eddy is completing his first term in the State House. Eddy is the Superintendent of the Hutsonville School District in downstate Crawford County. Eddy tells me he submitted, a while ago, his application to be considered by the State Central Committee for the U. S. Senate nomination. Eddy tells me that as far as he knows, he was not vetted. He was interviewed in his role as a new state rep. by the Illinois Leader [Kevin McCullough] on January 21, 2003 ( That interview gives the impression Rep. Eddy is a fairly dogmatic social and economic conservative.

However, when I interviewed Rep. Eddy on Friday on a number of topics, he seemed to be less dogmatic, more polished and more articulate than he sounded in the McCullough interview. For example, on school vouchers, he is much more open to them in urban settings where schools are failing than the Leader interview suggests. Eddy makes it clear that the focus should be on doing what is best for the child. Thus, he says if school vouchers can improve the quality of education for children, it is worth a try in those areas where public schools are performing below par.

On the War, Eddy would have voted for it, and he might have done so even if he knew before the vote that there were no WMD. Eddy is strongly pro-life and says we should stop using abortion as a form of birth control. However, he does favor exceptions to permit abortions to protect the life of the mother, and in cases of rape and incest. On Gay rights, we did not button that down, but he did indicate that while he would oppose same sex marriage, he believed in protection of basic rights for gays- which in the Leader interview is characterized as voting rights, etc. In my interview, I had the impression he might go further to ban discrimination against gays, with respect to, say, housing and employment—but we did not have time to pin that down.

Eddy emphasized that he thought he would do very well downstate. And, I am sure he would. The question, as with most of the other potential Republican candidates, is how does he catch up and keep up with Obama on finance. He seems to have little money to contribute to his campaign. In the debates with Obama, he would probably come off as knowledgeable, able and a good advocate for the opposing point of view. However, he might have a problem projecting to a suburban audience in Cook and the collar counties. But, before I came to that conclusion, I would want to spend more time with Rep. Eddy.

Actually, Eddy, for a publicly elected official, was refreshing both in his candor and in his willingness to think through issues, as we talked. Indeed, he even modified some of his views based on our discussion. That is a positive trait that is almost never exhibited by politicians who appear on my show.

Jeff Berkowitz, host of Public Affairs, can be reached at