Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Updated Nov. 17, 2004 at 12:15 am
Corinne Wood and Pat O’Malley—Does politics make strange bedfellows? Corinne and Pat seem to share a bond as GOP reformers. Who would have thunk it?
Jeff Berkowitz:…which they [the Chicago Tribune] succeeded in doing [having the court unseal the child custody records of Jack Ryan] and within days it seems as if Judy Baar Topinka, Jim Edgar and perhaps Jim Thompson- certainly Edgar, Topinka and Bob Kjellander seemed to be calling for Jack Ryan to withdraw, if not publicly, at least privately, do I have that right?

Corinne Wood: I would say that is accurate and in hindsight I know an awful lot of people are saying that Jack Ryan, even with a little bit of the sex scandal with his wife going on—

Berkowitz: Sex scandal was Jack Ryan attending a so-called sex club with his wife. That would be the sex scandal?

Wood: That is the sex scandal. But the question is whether Jack Ryan would have been a more credible candidate than Alan Keyes.

Berkowitz: That is the question. What is the answer?

Wood: I have to think…that Jack Ryan would have done better.
Berkowitz: When your pitcher throws a homerun ball and it is his first pitch and it is early in the game and you are down 1 to 0, does the manager go running out, pull this guy out and then look—

Wood: Without having a replacement.

Berkowitz: Yeah, without looking to see who is in the bullpen. If nobody is there, you might leave that young guy, the novice, in.

Wood: And, in fact, some people were questioning why were some Republican leaders so vocal in their opposition [to Jack Ryan]. And again, if Jack Ryan wasn’t forthcoming, it made it very difficult to stand by a candidate, at the same time. I kept thinking there must be some “wunderkind” in the wings, but as we all found out, unfortunately, there was no plan, there were no replacements—it was an embarrassing nearly two months.
Wood: My question to the State Central Committee was- Jim Oberweis was the second place finisher, he had hundreds of thousands of voters, he had an organization in place- he had at least run and made the effort…obviously more people would have voted for him than Alan Keyes. State Senator Steve Rauschenberger, I believe, finished third. Again there was some discussion with him as to whether he should take on Senator Obama.

Berkowitz: He seemed to decline [the potential offer]. He seemed to say the financial support wasn’t there.

Wood: Maybe you should have him on your show to say that there is not much of an organization to support a candidate. So, unfortunately, we did not end up with a credible candidate…
Berkowitz: Judy Baar Topinka, is she part of the old guard.

Wood: Maybe you can answer that.

Berkowitz: Well, you would know…

Wood: There are a lot of people who think that the Republican Party needs to do more than just re-build…we need to change the way we do business in Illinois.

Berkowitz: So, is this another schism?

Wood: The old way of doing business and the new way—or [as] I like to say-- the reform way. So, one- do we need to re-build? Absolutely. But, two, we need to reform.

Berkowitz: Are there people who resist reform?

Wood: Of course.

Berkowitz: So, you are a reformer? You know who else is a reformer?

Wood: The people who resist reform are the people who benefited from the system. State contracts. Lucrative special interest groups.

Berkowitz: Lobbyists?

Wood: Lobbyists, to some extent. This is a broad swath. There are a lot of very good people that are involved in government.

Berkowitz: So, you want to get principled people [in government]—People who aren’t in government to make money?

Wood: Well, don’t you think what we need are people who are focused on values since that is the buzz word in elections, now?

Berkowitz: Do we, do you agree?

Wood: I do agree.

Berkowitz: Abercrombie comes to mind.

Wood: Well, of course.

Berkowitz: You are almost a social conservative, you think?

Wood: On some issues, I am very socially conservative. But, I think when you talk about values in Illinois, we might use the buzz word-- integrity or independence. Someone who is ethical. In many ways, I think that matters more to the voters here in Illinois than a party label.
Berkowitz: …So, you are a reformer. I was about to say that Pat O’Malley says he is a reformer. And, you both ran for Governor in the Republican Primary in 2002. You have a lot in common with Pat. You got 27% of the vote. He got 29%.

Wood: If you want to say that the similarity that Pat O’Malley and I have is that we are not establishment Republicans, that would be accurate.

Berkowitz: I have talked with Pat and we will have him on separately but he has said the schism in the Republican Party is not so much Pro-Life and Pro-Choice on abortion, but the real schism, he says, is between reformers and the people who resist reform and that sounds to me like what you are saying.

Wood: And, in some ways, that is true. I keep hearing that the real schism is between social moderates and social conservatives and there is some of that there. But, primarily, I see social moderates welcoming everyone to the party- talking about the big tent, finding that common ground. Unfortunately, not everyone who is very socially conservative is quite as welcoming. And, politics is about addition, not division. And, unfortunately, Mr. Keyes believed in dividing and that is also one of the reasons why he lost….
Berkowitz: Who would be a better healer between Baise and McKenna [as State GOP Chairman]?

Wood: I am not sure who would be a better healer. I think the real question is who would be the better reformer? Who is going to rebuild, roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty, if you will-- and clean house?

Berkowitz: So, who would be the better reformer?

Wood: I don’t have that crystal ball yet.
Corinne Wood, recorded on Nov. 7, 2004 and as is airing on “Public Affairs,” this week in the suburbs and as will be airing through-out the City of Chicago on Monday, Nov. 22 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV]. See, blog entry, two entries below, dated Nov. 16 at 5:40 pm, for a detailed description of the Suburban airing schedule of “Public Affairs.”
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at