Thursday, August 05, 2004

Updated August 5, 2004, 1:30 am, revised 1:35 pm

From the Left and From the Right with Topinka/Keyes/Syverson/Dillard/Giangreco/Obama
Houston, we got another U. S. Senate Candidate.

"Public Affairs," show host Jeff Berkowitz does his usual fair and balanced hardballing with State GOP Chairman Topinka, Ambassador Alan Keyes and State Senators and State Central Committee Members Dave Syverson and Kirk Dillard.

State Sen. Kirk Dillard, "I think Barack [Obama] is more left than Alan Keyes is right." [See, below]

Remember to watch "Public Affairs," every Monday night at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 in the City of Chicago- This coming week's guest, Democratic Political Campaign consultant and Strategy Group Partner Pete Giangreco [who worked for Gary Hart, Bill Clinton, John Edwards and numerous others] and who continues to work for Democratic Senate Candidate Barack Obama. Our show with Pete is airing in the Suburbs this week [check the below blog entries for airing schedule information for "Public Affairs," in the suburbs].

39 days after Jack Ryan announces his withdrawal, State GOP Chairman Judy Baar Topinka announces the State Central Committee has offered the Illinois Republican
U. S. Senate Candidacy to Ambassador Alan Keyes.

State Senator Dillard tells us that the State Central Committee, voting yesterday on the first ballot to select a Republican U. S. Senate Candidate to replace Jack Ryan, gave about 75% of its weighted vote to Ambassador Alan Keyes [However, even on the last vote, there were still a few "passes," or abstentions among those SCC members who were still longing for the "moderate," and recently come to the Republican Party Dr. Andrea Grubb Barthwell--or who could not bring themselves to vote for the articulate, conservative from Maryland-- Amb. Keyes.

If Dr. Barthwell was Chairman Topinka’s candidate, as the buzz states clearly, Amb. Keyes was a bit of a bitter pill for Chairman Topinka to swallow. But, swallow she did, as she sought to play the neutral, yet welcoming State GOP Chairman, after she announced, at 9:20 pm on Wednesday night, that the State GOP had extended an offer to make Amb. Keyes the nominee of the Illinois Republican Party for the United States Senate.
Chairman Topinka heads the welcome wagon for Ambassador Keyes on Wednesday night, saying: We are looking forward to opening the doors of Illinos and welcoming a new resident.
Has Ambassador Alan Keyes made it pretty clear to the Illinois GOP that he will accept the Illinois GOP’s offer to be their U. S. Senate Nominee? Pretty much, listen to State Senator Syverson, State Central Committee member with the largest weighted vote and a big time Amb. Keyes booster, speaking just after Chairman Topinka, accompanied by all of the State Central Committee members present at the meeting, held a press conference late Wednesday night with Ambassador Keyes announcing that they made Amb. Keyes an offer [that he cannot refuse].

Jeff Berkowitz: What is your plan B. If he [Ambassador Keyes] says no, will you go to Dr. Barthwell?

State Senator Dave Syverson: I don’t think there is a Plan B, but that will be for the Party to decide.
Speaking to the media, but accepting no questions after his statement—saying he would speak to the media [and the Public] on Sunday, Amb. Keyes spoke for about six minutes. He was gracious, complimenting the leadership of the Illinois GOP for the way they were handling this situation, and suggested that the Illinois GOP “problem,” is more of an opportunity than anything else.

Indeed, Amb. Keyes stated that the Democrats have issued a challenge, and Amb. Keyes is known for accepting challenges and relishing a good, fair fight. Unlike Jack Ryan, this is a guy who can take a punch, and throw a few [especially rhetorically, too. And, that is not a disparagement of Jack Ryan. Jack himself wondered years ago if he had the mettle to be in politics. He, and we, got Jack's answer on June 25, 2004 when Jack announced his withdrawal. 39 days later the State GOP found a replacement for Jack Ryan and 43 days later, this Sunday, Amb. Keyes will make the switch official.

Amb. Keyes: …The Democratic Party has nominated and raised to a level of national attention an individual [Barack Obama] who I think really does represent in many ways in principle and commitment what the Democratic Party stands for in this country and who means to stand forward and articulate that. I think they have thrown down a gauntlet of national challenge to the Republican Party in the state of Illinois. Ambassador and Illinois Republican U. S. Senate candidate [to be] Alan Keyes, August 4, 2004.
As Amb. Keyes is exiting the August 4, 2004 press conference, he is asked:

Jeff Berkowitz: Dr. Keyes, can you give us an idea what the probability is [of you accepting the Senate Candidate offer]?

Ambassador Alan Keyes: I will talk to you all on Sunday [Translation: the probability is about 100%].
Speaking to State Senator, State Central Committee Member and DuPage County Republican Chairman Kirk Dillard after the Amb. Keyes Press Conference:

Berkowitz: Give me your best guess as to the outcome on November 2? Who wins and what’s the margin?

State Sen. Kirk Dillard: I am a realist. I still believe Barack Obama has a major head start, both in time and organization and money. But, he can be beaten. He is untested and we will see if Dr. Keyes can effectively show that Obama is essentially a 1960s liberal who borders on socialism when it comes to health care and issues like that but Keyes is the underdog- there is no doubt about that.

Berkowitz: Well, the last wrap-up question. Basically you are saying Barack Obama is an extreme liberal, is that what you are saying?

Dillard: There is no doubt about that.

Berkowitz: And, [you are saying he is] too liberal for the state of Illinois.

Dillard: Nodding, yes.

Berkowitz: You are saying that and yet you know people have said before about Amb. Keyes in his other races, both in Maryland for the Senate and in the Presidential primaries that he is an archconservative, and therefore they will say he is too conservative for the State of Illinois. How do you respond to that?

Dillard: Well, I think ... that is going to be determined by the voters, but, you know, I think Barack is more left than Allen Keyes is right. When you look at and I think I have told you before on this show ["Public Affairs,"]-- when you look at the balance in the United States Senate with the tag team partner, the potential tag team partner of Barack Obama being another liberal Dick Durbin, you can’t have two liberals from a major industrial, agriculture state like Illinois. That puts us way out of balance. Illinois should have a United States Senator, one from each party to maximize our representation and to bring back our tax dollars.
Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of "Public Affairs," can be reached at