Monday, November 15, 2004

Updated on Nov. 15, 2004 at 12:30 am, revised at 2:30 pm.

The Lady who would be Governor, notwithstanding her coy statements about the subject. The State Central Committee members got there by making deals, she said. And, what kind of a deal does Judy Baar Topinka have in mind. The sayings of Chairman Topinka, enough to fill a little red book, if not a red state:

See revised cite to AT ISSUE, at the conclusion of this blog entry: WBBM, seeeeventy-eight on your dial, how could I forget?
State GOP Chairman Topinka: So, like when Jack Ryan blew up on us, we really didn’t have a bullpen to reach back to…

Follow-up question that might have been good to ask: Did you help push Jack out of the race and do you think you should have taken a look at that empty bullpen before doing so?
Chairman Topinka: …When that [the Senate nomination] opened up, legally it flipped to the State Central Committee… and that particular organization is somewhat right wing.

Follow-up question that might have been good to ask: But wasn’t that the same organization that selected you for Chairman?
Chairman Topinka: People don’t realize that I am as conservative as I am on many, many issues. I mean if we wanted to go straight through, you know, on a whole list, I think you would find I am moderate on some social issues; I am more conservative on others. I am basically a hybrid and I think most people who are in the party are of that nature…

Follow-up question that might have been good to ask: Could you list the many, many issues on which you are conservative?
Chairman Topinka: I mean they [the State Central Committee member] get to their position the same way other people do, they make deals, they change, you know- sometimes we don’t have anyone who wants to run or there are trade-offs…

Follow-up question that might have been good to ask: Instead of having the State Central Committee members get their positions by making deals, do you think we should have direct election of the State Central Committee by the Republican Primary voters.
Chairman Topinka: The only one that we lost that we tried to help out with was Phil Crane, Cong. Crane [who lost to Democrat Melissa Bean in the 8th CD] but frankly we cannot turn around in a month what he did not turn around in 30 years. We did the best we could there.

Follow-up question that might have been good to ask: Well, Crane has been the Congressman since 1969 in the 8th CD of Illinois. Are you saying that he has not been responsive to his constituents for the last 30 years?
Chairman Topinka: Even folks who brought him to the dance, so to speak became a little disenchanted because, you know, we have so many bread and butter Illinois issues, you know like health care, education, transportation, mental health, public health, you know, you name it… and we just could not continually talk about abortion. I don’t think most people got up in the morning and the first thing they say is, well, I think I will think about abortion this morning. They think about- is there bread on their table, do they have a job. Is the economy going to function where I can pay my bills, send my kid to school, pay my health care expense…those are the things that drive people’s interests, you know, the War in Iraq on the Presidential side.

Follow-up Question: Would you concede that Keyes did talk about education and school choice, lowering tax rates, the benefits of building an airport in Peotone, health care, trade, jobs and the War on Terrorism, including the Front in Iraq.
Maura Kelly Lannan: There was one congressional race where Republicans didn’t seem to put up much of a challenge and that was the Dan Lipinski race. What happened there? Why didn’t the Republicans put up someone who seemed to be more of a formidable candidate than Brian Chalada?

Chairman Topinka: Frankly we didn’t know he [Cong. Bill Lipinski] was not going to run. I mean, you know this was done at the last minute. And, the Chalada things was obviously something that was put together on the Democratic side… I mean basically the time factor was a problem there because we couldn’t get a real live candidate into it.

Follow-up question that might have been good to ask: Well, there were constant rumors way before this that Bill Lipinski was going to do this. Shouldn’t the Republicans have had a real candidate ready to go?
Chairman Topinka: We would have been very hard pressed to put up any candidate because he [Barack Obama] was so very, very good and easy to work with…

Follow-up question that might have been good to ask: But for the sex club issue, do
you think Jack Ryan would have been a good match for Obama.
Chairman Topinka: …It has not been easy and, of course, you know when you are chairman or the head of anything, the buck ends with you. So, when we have an Alan Keyes fiasco or a Jack Ryan fiasco, you know I still wind up having to carry that burden even though I was not particularly, personally involved in those things…

Follow-up question that might have been good to ask: Given your extensive and repeated criticism of Jack Ryan, is it fair to say you were not particularly, personally, involved in that issue. Did you have some involvement in helping to make Dr. Barthwell a finalist and, if so, was Dr. Keyes, in part, a response to Dr. Barthwell, and if so, is it fair to say that you were not particularly involved in this issue.
From the episode of At Issue that aired on WBBM 780-AM Radio at 9:30 pm on Sunday night, November 14, 2004. State Chairman Judy Baar Topinka’s statements, above, were in response to questions from show host Craig Dellimore and the AP’s Maura Kelly Lannan.
Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of Public Affairs and a recruiter doing Executive Legal Search, can be reached at JBCG@