Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Updated September 7, 2004 at 1:45 pm

Topinka, Dillard, Thompson, Edgar, Keyes, Obama, Daley and Axelrod. The bush league Rs take on the major league Ds in Illinois. As everybody knows, it is not a contest. Kind of like a high school football team playing the pros, it is not pretty.

The only thing major league about the Illinois Republican Party is the internal division that its “leaders,” continue to promote.

Are GOP State Chairman Judy Baar Topinka and Republican DuPage County Chairman Kirk Dillard, two future GOP Gubernatorial Wannabees, helping the Republican Party? Are the so-called Party Elders, Thompson and Edgar, helping the Party? Very, very doubtful.

Grabbing some media time on the 10:00 pm ABC-7 Chicago local news segment last night about Alan Keyes marching in the Labor Day parade in Naperville was Judy Baar. ABC-7 News’ Evelyn Holmes commented that Judy Baar said the public could be the real loser come election time, and then Judy Baar popped up in the flesh, so to speak, saying, “Nobody is really bothering to watch what Barack Obama is doing because everybody is so interested in Jack Ryan’s sex life and Alan Keyes’ outrageous statements.”

Of course, Judy Baar apparently had nothing herself to say about what Barack Obama is doing. Why should she? She is just the industrial size plumber and carpenter, as she describes her role as State GOP Party Chair.

Also, isn't the State GOP chair responsible for making sure local GOP organizations are sufficiently strong to field candidates. If so, then does Judy take a hit of her own for the Republicans not being able to find an opponent for appointed State Senator Deanna Damuzio (D-Carlinville) by the recent deadline, as reported by Rich Miller in today's Capitol Fax. As Rich points out, the "Rs need to pick up four seats, but they are only competing in four districts at the moment, if that." Looks like Senate President Emil Jones can continue to relax and take it easy in his golden years.

Back to the havoc Judy Baar is wreaking. Over the last week, Chairman Topinka has been firing with her assault weapon at both the former Republican Senate Candidate, Jack Ryan [against whom Judy worked hard to shove off the ticket], for, as she puts it, “the mess Jack created, and his long good-bye” and at the current Republican Candidate Alan Keyes, [who, in Judy's own way, she helped bring on the ticket] for everything Keyes says, does and stands for. Lucky for Judy, the assault weapon ban will not be renewed and she will soon be able to fire even more freely; perhaps she likes the Second Amendment and machine guns, after all.

Stoic State Senator Kirk Dillard, also in the Labor Day parade with Alan Keyes, took a few shots of his own at Keyes, telling the ABC-7 local news, “Alan Keyes wasn’t the perfect choice but he is what I have to work with as a Republican leader at home and I will do the best I can. More important is George W. Bush who heads the ticket.” Dillard, who is a major player on the State Central Committee that chose Keyes, now claims Keyes was not his candidate, but the public did not hear a lot of that at the time Keyes was chosen.

All together, the Chicago ABC- 7 10:00 pm news segment devoted almost two minutes to the Senate race. Democratic Senate Candidate Barack Obama only got about 30 seconds, but that was all he needed to stay on the message of “health care, education, jobs and tolerance,” which, as he puts it, is “what all Americans want.” The remainder of the segment was consumed in large part with the Republican leaders bashing their senate candidate.

Of course, during the preceding week, state party elders Jim Thompson, who hasn’t won an election for 18 years and Jim Edgar, who has not won an election for 10 years and left office under the cloud of the MSI corruption investigation, took their own shots at Keyes.

Thompson told the public he would not vote for Keyes, perhaps not a great shock given his closeness, fundraising, and transition team participation with our Hot Rod Democratic governor [Blagojevich], and his apparent indifference to establishment Republican Jim Ryan’s 2002 Gubernatorial run against Hot Rod.

As Dennis Byrne reminded his Chicago Tribune readers yesterday, Thompson might not have standing, at this moment, to be judging others. Thompson, as head of the audit committee at Hollinger International, seems not to have noticed when a variety of “insider” improprieties seem to have robbed that company of about 400 million dollars in seven years. As Bryne notes, an independent investigation described Thompson's audit committee as "inert and ineffective." Thompson’s defense last week, “I never socialized with him [Hollinger CEO Conrad Black]...We didn’t play golf together,” seems a little weak for a former U. S. Attorney, but not out of sync with how country club Republicans view the world. As the country club Rs see things, it is not what goes on in the Boardroom or even in public forums that counts. No, it is at the country club where things either get done, or don't, as the case may be. So, Thompson seems to be suggesting, "How could I do anything wrong with Black, we didn't even play golf together." How, indeed.

Former Governor Jim Edgar, for his part, reminded everyone that the real test of the Republican Party in Illinois will come in 2006—perhaps an odd statement, coming from the Bush-Cheney 2004 State Chairman.

The camera didn’t show it, but I am sure Obama’s media message guru, David Axelrod, had a big smile on his face, late last night. And, Axelrod’s more long term boss, Mayor Daley, is a happy camper, too.

You have to admire that Daley-Ryan Combine. Players come and go, but like Old Man River, that Old Combine--it just keeps rolling along.

Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of “Public Affairs,” can be reached at JBCG@aol.com