Saturday, July 31, 2004

Updated July 31, 2004 at 1:15 pm-- It depends what the meaning of "So" is.

Quote of the week goes to State Republican Party Chairman Judy Baar Topinka.

The below exchange is a "Pull-out," from the blog entry, immediately below this blog entry.
Jeff Berkowitz: But, your [potential U. S. Senate] candidates, your candidates are behind [Barack Obama], any one of them, at least twenty points and at least five million dollars in the hole—

Judy Baar Topinka: So.

Berkowitz: How do you make that up, you know anyone who can [raise $50,000 per day]?

Topinka: We start. You have to have a candidate first and we will.
State GOP Chairman Judy Baar Topinka, July 29, 2004, Summer in the City fundraiser at the Metropolitan Club in the Sears Tower, Chicago, IL

When you think about GOP State Chairman Topinka's responses to my questions, they really are quite remarkable, don't you think?

Moreover, my question on the fundraising was understated. To get and stay even with Barack, a Republican U. S. Senate candidate entering the race on Aug. 2 would have 92 days until the election to catch up to the 5 million dollars, or so, that Barack Obama currently has in the bank and to match the additional 5 million dollars, or so, Barack Obama is likely to raise before the election. So, as Judy might put it-- that is $10 million, or so, for Liz Gorman [who the Chicago Tribune today claims tops the list of potential Republican Senate Candidates] Jim Oberweis or some other big name to raise in 92 days. So, as Judy Baar Topinka might put it-- that translates to having to raise about $108, 000 per day. In terms of an individual's max contribution of $2,000 [unless the fundraiser can snag couples or families], that means at least 54 successful calls per day or more than 5 successful calls per hour in a 10 hour day.

That is a fair amount of change to raise for relatively unknown candidates. For example, consider this hypothetical fundraising call:

Q: Hi, "I am Jane Fundraiser, could you please contribute $2,000 to Liz Gorman. She is a rising star in the Republican Party [says Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Maureen Murphy] and she is the Republican Candidate for the U. S. Senate. She needs your help because nobody knows who she is and she is losing by 25 points?

A: Liz who? Maureen who?

But maybe Liz Gorman has some money of her own. The Chicago Tribune reports today that Liz Gorman was previously President of Dodge of Midlothian, which was owned by her husband Gerald. The Tribune also tells us that the dealership lent Gorman's Cook County Commissioner campaign fund more than $325,000 to defeat long term Republican Cook County Commissioner incumbent Herbert Schumann in the March, 2002 primary. [Liz's husband claims, in a lawsuit, that Daimler-Chrysler forced him out of business-- so I guess that dealership may not be a source of funds for Liz in this campaign].

Of course, if Plummer kicks in 4 million of his own money, he only needs to raise $65, 000 per day to keep up with Barack. And, you argue, even Barack has to raise $54,000 per day to meet my projected target for him. True, but remember, (1) Obama is the projected landslide winner at this point, meaning even business PACs are willing to open their wallets to Barack Obama and (2) Barack has a fundraising operation in motion and it has been working smoothly at this for about 18 months. "So," Judy says. Yeah, right- "So."
Jeff Berkowitz, host of "Public Affairs," can be reached at

Friday, July 30, 2004

Updated July 30, 2004: 12: 10 am, revised 12:30 pm

Judy Baar Topinka "guarantees," the Republican Party will have a U. S. Senate Candidate by Tuesday, Aug. 3, to oppose Democratic Senate Candidate Barack Obama.

Of course, it is widely perceived that the State GOP Leadership Triad, along with most other political professionals, do not think the Republicans can win this U. S. Senate seat, even if some of the top name "could be candidates," who are not on the State Central Committee list, were to become candidates. The more interesting question, though, is does the GOP Leadership Triad want to win this seat?

And, oops, the first publication of this blog entry mistakenly included State Senator Steve Rauschenberger on the list of potential senate candidates that the State Central Committee is considering. If the Committee is considering Steve, it would be contrary to Rauschenberger's public statements that he withdrew his name from consideration, as well as contrary to statements of Steve's intentions that he made to this journalist this week. Also, John Cox was inadvertently omitted from the list of primary candidates under consideration by the State Central Committee. My apologies for any inconvience caused by those errors.

Judy Baar Topinka sets another deadline, this coming Tuesday, for the State Central Committee to decide on the replacement for withdrawn Republican U. S. Senate Candidate Jack Ryan. The Committee is scheduled to meet, starting at 12:00 pm on Tuesday, Aug. 3, at the Union League Club in downtown Chicago. The Committee will first interview multiple candidates and then deliberate and choose a Republican
U. S. Senate Candidate, said Chairman Topinka and her spokesperson, Jason Gerwig, last night.

Illinois Treasurer and State GOP Chairman Judy Baar Topinka speaking at last night’s Illinois GOP Summer in the City Fundraiser at the Metropolitan Club in the Sears Tower:

Judy Baar Topinka: …although he [Democratic U. S. Senate Candidate Barack Obama] speaks well and he did a nice job on his talk [Democratic Convention keynote speech], it is a little short on issues and those issues are what are the day to day concerns of people--…that’s what we are going to have to start looking at and that is why it is so important that we have a good Senate candidate, one who is conversant about these issues and who can handle a debate and we have vetted all these folks so they have had to go through a vetting process. There are going to be no surprises. So, Tuesday [August 3, 2004], guaranteed, there will be a [Republican U. S. ] Senate candidate, so stay tuned …God, folks, it has been a long haul.
Judy Baar Topinka: There are at least four or five states out there that have not even had a primary, yet, so, you know, time wise, we have plenty of time and we have plenty of time, too. What’s nice is, half the battle is already there because they don’t have to go through a primary so we can save all that money. They are also going to get a little bump because this is all exciting- then we are going to have a [U. S.] Senate candidate, so you get the name recognition. You know, I am cheap and as a Treasurer, I save money and I intend to save money on this as well, while making sure we get money to go at—

Jeff Berkowitz: But, your candidates, your candidates are behind, any one of them, at least twenty points and at least five million dollars in the hole—

Judy Baar Topinka: So.

Berkowitz: How do you make that up, you know anyone who can [raise $50,000 per day]?

Topinka: We start. You have to have a candidate first and we will.
State GOP Chairman Judy Baar Topinka, July 29, 2004, Summer in the City fundraiser at the Metropolitan Club in the Sears Tower, Chicago, IL
Although the press conference was too short for the press to get around to asking Chairman Topinka to list all of the candidates before the State Central Committee, all indications are that the the primary candidates on the list include General John Borling, 2% in the Senate primary, fifth place ; Jim Oberweis, about 25% in the primary, second place; John Cox, who ran third among three candidates in the 2002 Senate primary and dropped out of the 2004 Senate primary; the Edwardsville, IL downstate developer Robert Plummer, who reportedly is ready to kick in $5 million to get elected to the Senate and Liz Gorman, rookie Cook County Board Commissioner. Orion Samuelson, early morning farm reporter on the radio, may put himself on the list, and he would join secondary candidates Dr. Andrea Grubb Barthwell and Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, who received 1% of the vote in the Senate primary, or about 6,000 votes statewide. The secondary candidate list- Kathuria, Barthwell and Samuelson, as well as two to four additional anonymous candidates, is very unlikely to include the eventual State Central Committee choice. Unless, of course, the anonymous candidates are surprize stars, which no one seems to be betting on.

Judy did hot have an answer for the question as to how the eventual candidate will deal with the polling deficit and funds to spend deficit, relative to the extrememly strong financial position and polling preference of Democratic Senate Candidate Barack Obama, other then to suggest that the candidate somehow would start to make that up when there is a candidate. A Party of Faith or a Party of Blind Faith?

Further, it looks like no one in the state GOP leadership Triad [Topinka, Kjellander and Edgar, to a much lesser extent] is too concerned about the absence of a credible candidate among their list of candidates to oppose Barack Obama. That is, no one in the state GOP leadership seems interested in "recruiting," or knows how to recruit solid candidates like Fitzgerald or Rauschenberger to run. It is widely perceived that the State GOP Leadership Triad, along with most other political professionals, do not think the Republicans can win this U. S. Senate seat, even if some of the top name "could be candidates," who are not on the State Central Committee list, became candidates. The more interesting question, though, is does the GOP Leadership Triad want to win? More on this later.

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

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Updated July 29, 2004, 2:30 pm

Eric Zorn figures out a way to beat Bush-- now if only the Republicans will listen to him, he hopes. Who knows, maybe Zorn has Topinka's and Karl Rove's ear.

Well, with Jack Ryan apparently sending in his withdrawal papers today, it looks like W now has only two shots at staying President: Support incumbent U. S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald for re-election or Support state senator Steve Rauschenberger for the Illinois U. S. Senate seat. And, when I say support, I mean support. [See below blog entry- updated July 29, 12:15 am].

We will find out, shortly, if anyone in the Republican Party has any fight left in him or her- Bush, Rove, Senator George Allen, Topinka, Fitzgerald and/or Rauschenberger. Or, will they all go quietly into the night, conceding explicitly or implicitly not just the U. S. Senate race in Illinois, but the Presidential race.

Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune columnist, champion blogger, blogger inspiration [] and Obama endorser in the Democratic Primary sees the situation somewhat differently in his blog entry of yesterday from Boston: "Now, my suggestion of last Friday that 'Nobody' is the smart choice for the Republicans is looking very good. Prescient even.' Forget about beating Obama. They should put their money into races down the ticket and try again for the U.S. Senate next time."

Eric Zorn couldn't be more wrong-- as I steal a phrase from our former "Public Affairs," guest and Capital Punishment opponent Locke Bowman. Locke, of course, used the phrase in the context of several exonerated death row inmates who, even Locke and his friends, at one point thought were clearly guilty. The point, said Locke, was that his friends and he couldn't have been more wrong. And, that is true with respect to Eric Zorn's advice to the Republican Party to take a default judgment in the U. S. Senate race in Illinois. Moreover, why would Republicans take advice from Obama endorser Eric Zorn? Why, indeed!

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of "Public Affairs," can be reached at

Updated July 29, 2004 at 12:15 am.

Illinois to Karl Rove in the White House, you've got a problem: For President Bush to win re-election, he must have Jack Ryan, Senator Peter Fitzgerald or State Senator Steve Rauschenberger as the U. S. Senate Candidate from Illinois. If Rove can't handle this, perhaps he should call Josh Liman. If Rove doesn't know who that is, ask one of the kids.

Archpundit [] suggests in his blog of yesterday that Bush's master political operative, Karl Rove, probably called GOP Chairman Judy Baar Topinka, after Karl watched Barack Obama’s masterful bit of oratory in Tuesday’s Democratic convention keynote speech, and told Topinka to find any live body to be a Senate candidate. Archpundit says, “Imagine if Obama's only opposition is a libertarian candidate and what he [Barack Obama] can do to raise black turnout in swing states--and the press he will bring with him.”

Archpundit [Larry Handlin] has a point, but he doesn’t take it far enough. Senator John Kerry realized a while ago that Barack Obama is an extraordinary talent who could help Kerry win the presidency. Kerry was in Chicago for a joint appearance shortly after the Primary election and saw Barack’s magic. Further, almost two months ago, Hillary Clinton appeared at a fundraiser for Barack, and I am sure it was unintentional, but Barack overshadowed Hillary and word of that no doubt traveled wide and far. Say what the Republicans will about State Senator Barack Obama’s legislative voting record-- about him being too liberal for the Illinois electorate—it was as clear that night with Hillary as it was on Tuesday night of this week that Obama lights up a roomful or building of Democrats and energizes the base, even more so than Hillary, who is not half bad at it. Moreover, he knows how to move to the center, how to soften his edge—and how to do so to appeal to independents.

The major problem for Chairman Topinka, if she is bright enough and balanced enough to see this, is that “any live body,” for a Republican Senate candidate won’t do. In the remaining 96 days of the Presidential campaign, if Barack does not have a credible Republican Senate opponent, someone who could conceivably win, Barack Obama could help Kerry-Edwards win in a number of the 18 battleground states. That help could be much, much broader than simply raising Black turn-out, as Larry states. Instead, Barack could travel often to those states to energize the base, and particularly young Democrats and would be Democrats, a group that historically has not voted in large numbers, but which is being targeted intensively this year by the DNC.

True, the Obama speech may not have been carried by many of the network affiliates [although I think the Chicago ABC local affiliate did carry it], but it was carried by the cable news and political show networks. Also, the Obama Keynote speech was carried by the PBS network, and, in Chicago, was replayed a second time on Wednesday night on the local public television station, WTTW, in its entirety at the end of Chicago Tonight, in prime time, and then was repeated several times, when Chicago Tonight was repeated. I would not be surprised to learn that other public television local affiliates may follow suit.

So, Barack Obama is on his way to some national name recognition. Moreover, he has 4 to 5 million dollars on hand, and has a good chance to push that up to 9 to 10 million dollars by November 2. Without a credible opponent, how much of that could be diverted to Barack’s efforts to help Kerry win, say, in Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa or Pennsylvania, just to name a few of the battleground states that will determine who sits in the real West Wing, come January, 2005.

In those battleground states, most importantly, Obama would use his “crossover,” appeal to target independents and swing voters. As Rich Miller of Capitolfax pointed out, Obama targeted, successfully, during the March, 2004 Senate primary, the 31% Roland Burris black vote and the 33% Paul Vallas mostly white, suburban vote that Roland and Paul received, respectively, in the 2002 Democratic gubernatorial primary. Okay, Obama did not get 64% of the Democratic senate primary vote in March, 2004, but he got 53% of it. In short, he got most of the black votes and very large chunks of the Vallas suburban white vote, including perhaps some of the Vallas Republican cross-over vote, not to mention significant chunks of the city white vote that was supposed to belong to State Comptroller Dan Hynes, son of the historical political powerhouse Tom Hynes.

Now, since I am just a legal recruiter, who only dabbles as a political interview show host-- and I do this blog instead of watching baseball or other sports, wouldn’t you suppose people who devote their lives to this, such as Kerry/Edwards operatives can figure it out, too. And, if the Ds can figure it out, perhaps the Rs, such as Bush-Cheney, Rove, Senator Allen, et al, have jumped on this, too. That is, they all probably realize that Republicans need someone who Barack thinks can win, to keep him focused on Illinois and out of the 18 state battlefield on which the 2004 Presidential election will be determined.

So, what are the Rs doing? A good question. I am told by the Republicans in the know that Senator George Allen has blinders on, and he is only looking at keeping the U. S. Senate Republican majority intact. Apparently, Bush-Cheney be damned. So, while Senator Allen would like Jack to run in Illinois so Senator Allen has a shot at keeping the Illinois senate seat Republican without diverting the Senate Republican Campaign Committee’s money from other Senate battleground states, Allen is not willing to promise any senate candidates significant money in the event that Jack Ryan actually withdraws, as he said he would on June 25, 2004.

Senator Allen has the ability to transfer about $1.2 million in “coordinating committee,” money to a senate candidate. Further, if Speaker Hastert would commit to three fundraisers and Bush to one, they could come up with the three million dollar, or so, package that Senator Steve Rauschenberger was talking about as a pre-requisite for him to run.

It is a long shot for him to beat Barack, but Rauschenberger has most of the traits necessary to present a credible threat to Barack, even at this late stage, if Senator Allen starts pulling together the financial package. After his primary run of March, 2004, Senator Rauschenberger has reasonable state-wide name recognition, energizes the Republican base, had the support of such social conservatives in good standing as Pat O’Malley and Dave Syverson, and had a number of moderate Rs supporting him, based on twelve years of building bridges and relationships in the state senate. Indeed, that is four more years in the state senate than the now almost legendary Barack Obama.

In addition to Senator Steve Rauschenberger, the only other shots that the State GOP has at presenting a credible opponent to state senator Barack Obama that might keep him occupied and out of the battleground states are the incumbent, Senator Peter Fitzgerald and the Republican primary winner, Jack Ryan [For a discussion of how an executive recruiter might approach the search for a Republican U. S. Senate candidate, See blog entry, below, updated July 21, revised July 23, 1:30 pm].

Senator Fitzgerald could do it based on his ability to self-fund, name recognition, his ability to energize the Republican base and the fact that he has a clear, statewide reputation as an independent and maverick, which could create many Fitzgerald Democrats, and he actually rates in the middle in terms of his voting record. That is, the man does not have to do much running, to get to the Center.

Jack Ryan could do it based on his ability to self-fund, his attractiveness, and his coherent free market and social conservative philosophy/themes. He would have to admit mistakes on the sealed records: apologize for not saying that their disclosure would be embarrassing to him. If there is worse to come out in still redacted docs, say what it is, apologize and move on. Would that work? I don’t know, but he has a shot at making it work. More importantly, I do think he is one of only three candidates who might be able to keep Obama busy enough to keep President Bush in the oval office.

So, what is Chairman Topinka doing about this? Good question. She has called a meeting of the 19 member State Central Committee for Tuesday, August 3, 2004, at noon. Who will be there? The 19 members of the State Central Committee ("SCC"), Chairman Judy, RNC honcho and friend of Karl Rove- Bob Kjellander and probably key Fundraisers, e.g., Ron Gidwitz, certain members of the Congressional delegation and who knows. To do what? To kind of take stock as to where things are in the Jack Ryan replacement process.

My operatives tell me that there are twelve, or so, candidates being discussed or thought out by the SCC. However, only three have been vetted, are talking up their candidacy and are currently being discussed publicly as candidates: General John Borling, John Cox and Jim Oberweis. The fact that the others are not even being mentioned these days suggest they include such luminaries as not so Republican, no so anything Dr. Barthwell, rookie Cook County Board member Liz Gorman, 1% primary finisher Dr. Kathuria, etc. That is, not a credible opponent for Obama in the bunch.

As I have discussed on this blog, below, General John Borling got about 2% in the Primary, is pro-choice and will not energize the Republican base, has no base of his own or prior political experience, cannot self fund, was 37 years in the military--including a long stint as a POW with Senator McCain, is a nice guy and has no chance to be a credible opponent to Obama. Those who think otherwise must be on meds.

John Cox was third out of three in 2002 senate primary and dropped out of the 2004 senate primary. Won’t self-fund a significant amount, not very good name recognition, consistently articulates a strong economic and social conservative message, but has been unable to energize and attract large chunks of the Republican base in prior outings. Is currently engaged in a futile attempt to unseat Democratic incumbent Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore. Nice guy, bright guy- but has no chance to be a credible opponent to Obama.

Jim Oberweis, second in 2002 senate primary and second in 2004 primary. Close, but no cigar. Will self fund some, but not enough to matter. Has admitted his too harsh immigration ads in the primary were perhaps a mistake, without backing off from his argument that we should clamp down on illegal immigration. His implicit and explicit criticism of President Bush on Immigration, notwithstanding his strong support of Bush on almost all other matters, make him a non-starter with Rove, no matter how well he can sugar coat the ads. Nice guy, smart guy, but he has made two strategic mistakes too many [analogizing pro-lifers to the Taliban and taking on Bush on Immigration]. Has no chance to be a credible opponent to Obama.

Clearly, any of the other candidates being considered by the SCC are even weaker than the above three.

Clearly, the blood is so bad between Chairman Topinka and Bob Kjellander, on the one hand, and State Senator Rauschenberger, Senator Fitzgerald and Jack Ryan, on the other, that none of those three would be a senate candidate unless Chairman Topinka and RNC honcho Kjellander exited gracefully. If Judy and Bob did that, and their strong finance committee stuck around, and the State GOP brought in new, strong, professional leadership that would support vigorously Jack Ryan, Peter Fitzgerald or Steve Rauschenberger, and if Rove/Bush-Cheney got behind the new candidate, or old candidate, if it is Jack Ryan- President Bush then would have a shot to stay in the White House.

If not, it is anchors away with Swift Boat John Kerry rowing up the Potomac into the Oval office, greeted no doubt by Martin Sheen, aka Jed Bartlett of West Wing.

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

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Updated July 28, 12:30 am

Best line of the Democratic Convention on Tuesday night: I half expected her to break out in, “Don’t cry for me, Argentina.”

“You know, Brit [Hume], I have to say, I never understood why they were giving Teresa Heinz Kerry this kind of prominent spot, the featured speaker on one of the four precious nights of the Convention and after listening to Mrs. Heinz Kerry’s speech, I still don’t get it…it seems to me that her speech tonight was all about Teresa Heinz Kerry, her vision of America, her understanding of where we ought to go- much more so than it was about her husband…I have to say that by the end, I half expected her to break out in, “Don’t cry for me, Argentina.”

Chris Wallace, Fox political news analyst and Fox Sunday anchor, commenting from the floor of the Convention after Teresa Heinz Kerry’s speech, July 27, 2004.

As for me, I thought Teresa Heinz Kerry speaking a bit in four languages, or so, was quite impressive: Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian? Except, was she just showing us she could say, “shove it,” in multiple languages. That could be handy, at least as to the French.

But, seriously, I had the same reaction as Chris Wallace when I saw Teresa speaking there, i.e., why was she speaking? She is not running for President, her husband is. As to what she has done, in terms of accomplishments, to warrant addressing the Nation, I am at a loss. She married one U. S. Senator, John Heinz. He died, making her a billionaire. Teresa then became head of the Heinz Foundation, where she oversees, in some sense, the dispersal of a lot of funds.

Then, at age 55, Teresa married another U. S. Senator. Then, Teresa helped Senator Kerry win in Iowa by allowing him to mortgage a jointly held property to throw a lot of money into Iowa, which of course was crucial to Kerry’s win in Iowa, which, of course, was crucial to Kerry’s winning of the nomination. Now, at age 65, Teresa is helping Kerry win by describing herself as sexy, saucy and, it is rumored, by introducing Kerry to Botox, which Teresa touts as a great wrinkle remover. She also told an Editorial Page editor [watch out Bruce Dold] to “shove it,” apparently, because she did not think he should quote her.

Okay, so Teresa was speaking because she married well, inherited a billion, and then leveraged that billion into another U. S. Senator marriage, which in turn was leveraged into becoming the spouse of a presidential nominee? Somewhat similar to what we called at the turn of the 20th Century, monopoly by merger. I don’t think this is what Gloria Steinem had in mind as to feminism. At least, I hope not. I’m with Chris Wallace, I think Teresa should at least have belted out- Don’t cry for me, Argentina.

We can just hope that this precedent does not catch on, that is, in the future- spouses do not get to address the Convention, even if they are billionaires.

One benefit of that: if Hillary is the presidential candidate, Mr. Bill does not get yet another bite at the apple.

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of “Public Affairs,” can be reached at

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Updated on July 27, 2004: revised at 7:30 pm. Hardballing and softballing with Barack Obama; an Obama doubleheader- tonight. [See partial transcript, below]

Senate Candidate Barack Obama on Healthcare policy: Does Obama favor Universal Healthcare, Single Payer or what? Time Frames and Timing are everything in politics? The War, Jobs, Education, the Wall and much, much more. 100 major TV shows with Barack Obama and this is the only one playing Hardball with Barack.
Watch Barack Obama tonight on “Public Affairs,” at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable in 24 Chicago North Shore, North and Northwest suburbs (Ch. 19/Ch. 35) and then watch him deliver the Democratic Convention Keynote Speech at 8:42 pm on Cable networks, WTTW or perhaps the local network affiliates [You may have to go back and forth between Obama on Public Affairs and Obama's Keynote speech, or better yet, watch Obama on "Public Affairs," and then watch Obama's Keynote later on C-Span]. The “Public Affairs,” show with Barack Obama going toe to toe with show host Jeff Berkowitz will air in other suburbs on Wednesday/Friday and through-out the City of Chicago this coming Monday night, Aug. 2, on Ch. 21 at 8:30 pm. [See, below, for “Public Affairs,” airing schedule and details].
Jeff Berkowitz: We can’t do this whole program on [education and school choice].

Barack Obama: All right, go ahead.

Berkowitz: Let’s go over to healthcare.

Obama: You sure, now? You don’t want to talk about-

Berkowitz: I’d love to, but we can’t [stay on School Choice/School Vouchers]. Healthcare. You want to cover every child. You want to allow people who are near retirement to buy into Medicare. You want to insure coverage for those who are losing jobs through no fault of their own.

Obama: Right.

Berkowitz: You want to lower the cost of subscription drugs. Nobody questions all of those goals and objectives.

Obama: Right.

Berkowitz: But, it is the way we get there. Okay. You have said recently that you do not favor moving toward a single payer Hillary Clinton style health care system, right? You said that-

Obama: On the record.

Berkowitz: But, on November 25, 2002, on “Public Affairs,” [this program], you said and this is Barack Obama [speaking], “I think you do have to go to a universal health care plan.”

Obama: Universal health care, universal health care--

Berkowitz: Let me finish [the quote from the Nov. 25, 2002 show-- Berkowitz said] “Does that mean a single payer?” Barack Obama [responded on Nov. 25, 2002]: I think that we are probably going to have to move towards a single payer plan of some sort and I think a major debate is going to be how do you structure that but still retain some of the important components of competitiveness and market based incentives that are in the existing system.” I read the full quote. I am not going to bias that.

Obama: Right.

Berkowitz: You stand by that statement?

Obama: Well, you know, the problem we have is what kinds of time frames are we talking about? Right? Do I think that over time we are essentially going to have a system in which you have got a market system but people are getting basic health care of some sort and a market system superimposed on that for discretionary things—cosmetic surgery or elective surgery or what have you—

Berkowitz: You said market system twice; did you mean to say that?

Obama: Yes, I did.

Berkowitz: So, the basics of the market system?

Obama: No, no.

Berkowitz: I think you meant to say government system, or something, for that basic care—

Obama: There is going to be some sort of coverage that we want to provide everybody.

Berkowitz: Minimum coverage.

Obama: Minimum coverage. And, I think that some people are going to be getting that through their jobs, and we have employer systems now that are working just fine. And, I think there are going to be other people that don’t have that. I mean, essentially-

Berkowitz: But, that is not a Single Payer [system]. So, you are backing off from Single Payer.

Obama: I have never-

Berkowitz: You said what you said. Look, there is the [video] tape.

Obama: Look, Jeff, I have been consistent in saying that what I am in favor of is universal health care. Right? And, I think we have to move in a direction of universal health care because if we don’t-- the question I have for people who argue against me is-- Who is it that you think shouldn’t be covered. Who is it that that you think doesn’t, shouldn’t—

Berkowitz: Well, I don’t think anyone doesn’t-

Obama: Well, that is my point.

Berkowitz: But, I think the difference between you and the Republicans—I will be fair and balanced here. I think they [Republicans] want universal coverage, too. The difference between them and you, whoever your Republican opponent is, I would guess- is that they want to see the market more involved, they want to see people have choice-

Obama: The market is entirely, the market is thoroughly-

Berkowitz: They want to see people provided funds, give them vouchers to spend on health care, but let the market, let them choose. You are more willing to allow the government to do more things.

Obama: Jeff.

Berkowitz: I mean that is an honest difference I am saying, right?

Obama: Jeff

Berkowitz: I am not saying it pejoratively.

Obama: No, No. Show me the plan. I—they have been in power now for the last four years. They have had control—

Berkowitz: Well, you know it takes [60 votes in the Senate]--

Obama: Jeff, stop interrupting me. Hold on for a second.

Berkowitz: Yes, Okay.

Obama: I am asking and I have asked people repeatedly. What exactly is your plan and what is your proposal and how would you pay for it? And, Jack Ryan [Illinois Republican Senate Primary winner who said, on June 25, 2004 he would withdraw as the party nominee, but he has yet to file his official withdrawal papers] or any other Republican when they talk about-- we believe in, yeah, we want everybody covered through the market. Well, what does that mean? How much would these vouchers cost? Where would we get the money? What is it that we are replacing? Are we replacing employer based health care plans? Are we replacing the tax deductions that are given to employers? None of those questions are ever answered [Ed. Note: Actually, Jack Ryan, for one, has spoken of moving or extending the health insurance tax deduction from companies to individuals so health insurance would be more portable, thus allowing individuals not to lose insurance coverage when they lose or change jobs].

Berkowitz: I think they [the questions] are [answered]. But, we are going to go on. They would say that we take the money that we are spending now. We use that to give people more choice. We—

Obama: So, what are we doing? Are they-

Berkowitz: That is the voucher plan. My--

Obama: Are they proposing to strip- to strip away Medicare and Medicaid?

Berkowitz: Using the education model, I am not proposing any more spending [or less], I am just saying take what we are spending now and give people a choice, give them control. I don’t want to go on because we have to get over to the War, to Iraq--

Obama: Okay

Berkowitz: You opposed the War early on, in the fall of 2002.

Obama: Absolutely.
Democratic U. S. Senate Candidate Barack Obama, interviewed and recorded on July 18, 2004, and as will be cablecast on “Public Affairs,” this week in 34 Chicago metropolitan suburbs [See below for airing schedule] and through-out the City of Chicago on Monday night, August 2, 2004 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21
This week’s [Week of July 26] suburban edition of “Public Affairs,” features Democratic U. S. Senate Candidate Barack Obama debating and discussing with show host and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz job programs, taxes, free trade, healthcare policy, the Iraq War, Israel and the Wall, same sex marriage, abortion, education and school vouchers/school choice.

The suburban edition of "Public Affairs," is regularly broadcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire, Riverwoods and Winnetka.

The suburban edition also is broadcast every Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northfield, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Wilmette and every Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 35 in Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Glenview, Golf, Des Plaines, Hanover Park, Mt. Prospect, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Schaumburg, Skokie, Streamwood and Wheeling.

The show with Democratic U. S. Senate Candidate Barack Obama will also air through-out the City of Chicago, at its usual time slot in the City, this coming Monday night, August 2 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV]

Additional partial transcripts of the show will be placed on this Public Affairs blog during the next week.

Jeff Berkowitz, show host and legal recruiter, can be reached at

Updated July 26 at 1:00 am

Bill Kristol laments the new, moderate face put on the Democratic Party during the first night of the Democratic Convention:

Bill Kristol, speaking as a commentator during the Monday night Convention coverage anchored by Fox's Brit Hume:

Kristol: It really is striking. Six months ago it looked like Howard Dean was going to be the nominee. The rhetoric was the Dean/Gore/Kennedy rhetoric- "Bush was a war criminal." The Kerry campaign deserves a lot of credit- I don't say this terribly cheerfully, but I think they have presented, so far at this Convention, a Democratic Party that is a John F. Kennedy /Bill Clinton Democratic Party, not a McGovern /Michael Dukakis/ Al Gore Democratic party.
Alan Colmes speaks with Bill Bennett during Fox's coverage of Monday night's Democratic Convention.

Colmes: That is Jimmy Carter speaking live here in Boston at the Democratic National Convention and who do I turn around and see among all of these Democrats: Bill Bennett of Empower America. Bill, good to have you here.
Colmes: Liberals love everybody, so you are not in enemy territory... You wrote a piece for National Review and you talk about the nature of the debate. You don't like the way the debate is going and yet- we are hearing that John Kerry is very clear. He wants a very positive message here in Boston, so what is wrong with that.

Bill Bennett: A positive message is fine if you can keep it. if you can contain it. Also, the message of the platform is fine if you can keep it. The platform is very interesting It says it is pefectly reasonable to support the war in Iraq. He wants a large military and says preemptive strikes are fine. It supports the Patriot Act. It says a host of very interesting things. Is that really what the people here believe. I have been talking with them and they didn't know that is what their platform said.

Colmes: Well, the fact is we are a big tent party.

Bennett: That is not a big tent; that is an incoherent tent.
Bennett: ... I mean Read the platform: I asked six people here before I came up,do you know that you support the Patriot Act. And, they did not know that?
Jeff Berkowitz, host of "Public Affairs," can be reached at

Monday, July 26, 2004

Updated July 26, 2004, 8:10 pm, revised at 11:20 pm

School Choice Alert: Turn to Cable Ch. 21 at 8:30 pm tonight in the City of Chicago. Holmes v. Berkowitz, Don’t miss it or you will be sorry.

Are you are getting ready to watch Mr. Bill at 9:00 pm tonight? If so, take a page from our former President, Bill Clinton, and live on the edge for a half hour. That is, watch Brenda Holmes [Blago’s education guru], throughout the City of Chicago, go toe to toe with show host and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21. [See partial transcript, below, of tonight’s exciting show].

Brenda Holmes, Blagojevich’s education guru, declines to take a silver bullet to improve failing inner city schools. Instead, she rejects the argument that School Choice/School Vouchers is a silver bullet.

Next Week's guest on the City of Chicago edition of "Pubic Affairs," is
the Candidate for the U. S. Senate from Illinois, Barack Obama (D- Chicago). We guarantee it, unlike yesterday's fawning Sunday morning talk shows with a preponderance of soft balls, we throw almost all hard balls to Barack, giving our viewers a chance to judge his intellectual dexterity and decide for themselves if he has any vulnerabilities. We pitch, Barack swings and you decide.

This week's (Tonight, July 26, 8:30 pm) City of Chicago edition of "Public Affairs," features Brenda Holmes, Deputy Chief of Staff for Education to Governor Rod Blagojevich, debating and discussing with show host and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz various education topics, including Out with the old, in with the new State Board of Education Members; firing State Board of Members on a showing of incompetence, malfeasance or neglect; trying to making the state educational bureaucracy more user friendly; Could Gov. Blagojevich have made the state educational bureaucracy more user friendly with his proposed conversion of the independent Board of Education to a Governor controlled agency? Are the customers of the Board of Education the teachers or the parents of students? Discretion with state education expenditures- Who has it? School choice- who should have (or have had) such choice? Rev. Jesse Jackson, Gov. Blagojevich, and/or low income minority parents in failing inner city public schools? Improving teacher competency-has it been done? School vouchers, school choice- A silver bullet to improve education for inner city children?
Brenda Holmes: After the last twenty years and the debate over how schools should be funded, there has been no magic bullet that has been proposed and every proposal that has been put forward, and there have been at least five or six in the last twenty years, five or six serious ones- they have all involved raising billions of dollars.

Jeff Berkowitz: So, there is no magic bullet, but here is one- let me see what you think of this. We have this backpack here for a purpose—

Holmes: I have heard about your backpack.

Berkowitz: So, take the City of Chicago, where it is still basically true … [that only] one out of three kids is reading at grade level, two out of three are not. Now, the numbers have gotten a little better, but those numbers are still a pretty good guide, those numbers were thrown out by Mayor Daley three years ago as the [right] numbers [if we] focus on the City of Chicago, but I think you could talk about the same experiment with Decatur and a variety of other areas through-out the state, [such as] Cairo, where we have low performing schools. Or, let’s put it that way—we, at least, have kids who are not learning how to read, write and do math at the levels we would like. I think you and I would agree with that. In the City of Chicago, we spend $11,000, counting capital costs, per kid, per year. If you don’t count capital costs…it is about $10,000. You have about 435,000 students in the City of Chicago. Go to each parent—you could sponsor this, you are in a position to do this, you could say to the Governor- you know, we should give these people some school choice, put that $10,000 in the backpack…and go to every parent of those 435,000 students, and here is a backpack-- you take that backpack and you go to the parents and say if you are happy with …your public school, you can stay there. But, if you are not happy with your public school, you can take that $10,000 and go to the private school of your choice. The market would work. Private schools would be created right in the area, so we don’t have to bus kids anywhere. If they wanted to they could go 10 miles [away, or further], but markets tend to respond, and if the kid [and the parent] left the public school to go to a private school—out goes the kid, out goes the backpack, strapped on the kid’s back. Out goes the money to the private school that is providing the service. What was the word you used? Something about a bullet?

Holmes: Magic silver bullet.

Berkowitz: Silver bullet. There is no silver bullet [you said]. School vouchers, school choice, a silver bullet to promote competition, innovation, choice, all good things, and we are going to continue to speak as the credits roll, but I very much want to thank Brenda Holmes…we are almost out of time again—

Holmes: I can’t believe that we are out of time—

Berkowitz: But, you will get the last word because you can tell us, Brenda Holmes, Deputy Chief of Staff for Education for Governor Rod Blagojevich, what is wrong with school choice? Giving parents some freedom, some choice. Providing them [parents] with competition, innovation.

Holmes: We don’t have enough time, Jeff, for me to talk to you about those particular issues. We do have a public school system. It was designed to educate students who want to be educated in the public schools. There are choices for parents, indeed, to educate their children in private schools. But, we believe the public school is the best place for them to be.

Berkowitz: But, they [the public schools] are failing. How is a parent worse off [under school vouvhers]? [Suppose] I am a parent; I am in the city of Chicago and my school is failing me. [Currently], if I want to stay there, I can. But, if I want to leave, I can’t. I mean, Al Gore left [to go to the elite St. Albans private school in Washington, D.C.]. Cong. Jesse Jackson left. Rev. Jesse Jackson sent his kid, Cong. Jackson, to [the elite] St. Albans [in Washington D.C. when Jesse Jr. was a kid]. Why are high income people [treated] better so they should get a choice. [Governor] Rod Blagojevich- I think his daughter goes to a [private] Montessori school.

Holmes: She does.

Berkowitz: [Gov. Blagojevich] exercises choice. Why should Rod Blagojevich’s kid have choice when other low income kids do not?

Holmes: I think the entire school choice movement has been successful in Chicago with the charter schools that the system has--

Berkowitz: A pittance. 45 charter schools across the state [actually, I was wrong. In actuality, there are only 23].

Holmes: And, more to be created.

Berkowitz: You are talking 2 % of the kids. What about the other 200,000 kids [in failing schools] in the City of Chicago who don’t have that choice? Don’t you folks care?

Holmes: Of course we care.

Berkowitz: Give them choice!

Holmes: Well, I appreciate hearing your opinion. I will be sure to share that with the Governor.

Berkowitz: Well, I hope you do. But, I am serious. What’s wrong with that choice? I mean, I don’t understand it. I know the Governor cares. He wants to improve education. He wants to help people. It would be remarkable. It would also make him popular, don’t you think?

Holmes: No, I don’t. Because I don’t think the statistics have borne out on any type of separate systems for a public school education.
Brenda Holmes, Deputy Chief of Staff for Education to Governor Rod Blagojevich, interviewed on “Public Affairs,” as recorded on July 8, 2004, and as is being cablecast this evening through-out the City of Chicago at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV].

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Updated on July 25 at 12:30 pm, revised at 2:15 pm

Tim Russert gives Barack Obama a pass on Meet the Press; No Surprize, so do Schieffer and the Wolfman;

Cong. Rahm Emanuel; General Borling, Judy finds a Two Percenter in the Bullpen? Rewarding Rod? Now, it's Judy's turn to cry?

More on Russert/Obama later, after I watch the tape, but my initial impression, based on watching the program as it aired, is that Tim Russert gave Barack Obama a pass this morning on his program, "Meet the Press." Russert asked some good, tough first questions, but not many tough follow-ups. Also, NBC seemed to screw up the initial feed, that is-- the program opened with a few minutes of 9/11 Commission Co-Chairmen Keane and Hamilton and then switched mid-stream to Democratic Convention Keynoter and U. S. Senate Candidate Barack Obama. [If you missed this, NBC usually repeats the program at 2:35 am on Monday morning- so set your recording device. Russert may not be as good as I am, but then again, who is?]

I only saw part of Face the Nation as it aired and will have to go back to watch to that tape, but Bob Schieffer and his assistants have not asked a tough question to a Democrat since 1968, so I don't think we will find anything other than softballs there.

The Wolfman (Blitzer) is scheduled to have Barack on his show [Late Edition, CNN] today, and that will air shortly (about) 12:30 pm-- but I don't expect much of a challenge for Barack there. Wolfman is another soft-baller.

Oh yes, then there is the Illinois GOP Leadership Triad , where the latest buzz is (1) State GOP Chairman Judy Baar Topinka would perhaps like, as a replacement for Jack Ryan, General John Borling (6th of 8 candidates, 2% in the March primary, and the 2 star General who conceded to me that he failed as a Commander when he was apparently unable to prevent his campaign manager Rod McCulloch from inaccurately [based on what we know today] reporting on in March, 2004, the sealed child custody records of Jack Ryan) and (2) according to Rich Miller's Capitolfax of yesterday, the Edwardsville, IL downstate developer Robert Plummer is ready to kick in $5 million to get elected to the Senate. Good luck, Bob- Have Money, will run. We, like most, don't know much about Robert, but we will take a look. Plummer has at least one of the desired specification traits that any good executive recruiter would include on his list [See Blog entry, revised July 23 at 1:30 pm, below, on the desired traits that should have guided Judy and Bob in their search for, in their recruiting of, and their thinking about a strong Senate Candidate to replace Jack Ryan-- some of which could have and should have done before they helped push Jack to announce that he would withdraw].

Back to General Borling, would making him the replacement Senate candidate be one way for Judy and Bob to reward the General and his campaign manager, Rod Muculloch, for what they view as a job well done? That is, Judy and Bob certainly know how to follow the admonition of Democratic Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D- Chicago; 5th Dist.) quite well, "Reward your friends and punish your enemies." And, of course, the General is a pro-choicer on the issue of abortion, which should please Judy Baar. And, Bob Kjellander, although saying he is Pro-Life, has also indicated, from the outset of the replacement process, that he would be comfortable with either a Pro-Lifer or a Pro-Choicer, so long as that is what the "process," produced.

One month after Jack Ryan gave Judy Baar and Bob Kjellander what they apparently had been hoping for-- a chance to bypass the primary process with one of their own, and Judy and Bob still can't find a credible choice among their own. And, now, they need to defer the process a week, so they don't miss any of the exciting moments of the Democratic National Convention?

Yep, Barack could win this one falling out of bed, and he just may.

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of "Public Affairs," can be reached at

Friday, July 23, 2004

Updated July 23, 2004, 1:30 pm

Who is really to blame for the Republican U. S. Senate candidate debacle in Illinois?

In a longish piece, especially for something related to the Republican Party (more than two pages), Rich Miller of Capitolfax gives what sounds to be the State GOP Chairman Judy Baar Topinka defense (without of course citing to Topinka). A defense, that is, to the sniping at Judy by some (e.g., Jack Roeser) who think the State Treasurer is responsible for the Republican Senate candidate debacle. The Rich Miller piece also serves as a defense to the State GOP Central Committee action or inaction. Although some of the Central Committee differ from Topinka philosophically, they are now joined at the hip with her in this whole peculiar Jack Ryan replacement procedure they are going through.

Rich Miller, Chicago Tribune Columnist and Blogger Eric Zorn [and others] have criticized Jack Ryan for his “dumb” or not credible statements about why he has not filed his formal withdrawal. Boy, that is a news flash, a pol makes some disingenuous statements that he and everyone else knows are equivalent to euphemisms. Jack Ryan wants to have some leverage over the party’s replacement choice. Senator George Allen [head of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee] would like Jack, and indirectly Senator Allen, to have some leverage over the replacement choice. Jim Oberweis, who came in second in the Republic Primary, thinks Jack should have some leverage over the replacement choice. So does Conservative Republican party leader and former 10 year state senator Pat O’Malley. So do many others. After all, they say, Jack, by doing this, is representing the 35% of the voters who elected Jack Ryan to be the Republican Senate candidate. Also, Jack and his supporters might want the option not to withdraw if the State GOP leadership makes a really bad choice.

Contrast the reaction of the press, Rich Miller, et al to a statement that really is a dumb statement.

“IL GOP State Central Committeeman Bobbie Peterson (R-11) took her complaint to the national level by calling Jack Ryan "an obstructionist" for not filing his withdrawal form in the U.S. Senate race. Washington Times reporter Steve Miller, who was in Chicago over the weekend talking with Republicans, hit a sore spot with Peterson. She represents Will County and surrounding areas as state central committeeman. Peterson and 18 others will have a part in selecting who ultimately fills the vacancy being left by the withdrawal of Ryan. "Now he's being an obstructionist," Peterson told Miller about [Jack] Ryan. "We could have a replacement for him tomorrow if he would sign those papers. We have a minimum of 12 people ready to be interviewed for this ballot spot." As reported by the Illinois Leader (,July 22, 2004) and as circulated (quite helpfully in his daily collection of key political articles) by Milton Township Republican Precinct 9 Committeeman Dave Diersen.

What a bizarre statement. I am supposed to believe that Committeeman Peterson has one candidate among her twelve who can self fund, who can raise funds at the rate of about 100K per day, who has a clear, cogent message that connects with the Republican Party base and swing voters, who has name recognition across the state, who is likeable to the voters (this last characteristic is another trait that I have added to my revised specs for the Senate candidate position, See blog entry, immediately below, revised today). And, if Peterson and her State Central Committee colleagues don’t have one candidate who meets the requisite specs to be a credible senate candidate, I am supposed to believe that is because Jack Ryan has not filed his withdrawal form? I don’t think so. Have you seen anyone in the mainstream media (including Rich) rip Peterson for making this inane statement? I don’t think so.

So, the Rich Miller Capitolfax piece tells us that a “ Top Republican Party official,” thinks that a variety of people, e.g., Senator Dillard, Senator Rauschenberger, Coach Ditka and Al Salvi are all using the press to get their 15 minutes of fame (of course, I think Da Coach already had his, so I guess the top Republican Party official would say that the “self-promoters,” used Ditka to use the Press, or whatever). Therefore, it is argued that if the so-called Republican senate candidate search process looks stupid, it is not the GOP State Central Committee’s fault, it is the fault of the Press and the people who are using the press.

Further, Rich concludes, that the real fault for the Republican Senate candidate mess is attributable to--who do you think?—Why, Jack Ryan, of course. Sure, Rich concedes that the Republican Party is having trouble finding a candidate, and he concedes that there are one or two reasons other than Jack why that might be the case, but really, boys and girls, the wisdom according to Rich Miller and his friendly “Top Republican Party official,” is- blame it all on Jack.

Now, of course, Jack Ryan and his campaign made significant mistakes in how they handled the whole set of issues relating to sealed records, disclosure, etc. So what, good candidates and their campaigns often make major league mistakes and survive them. Former President Bill Clinton comes to mind, for one. Yes, I concede that this might have been a case where the problems, especially in light of the candidate’s lacking the stomach for a fight, were not survivable. But, we will never know. Because the Illinois GOP Triad of Topinka, Kjellander and Edgar- which is what the press means by the state GOP leadership-- turned on Jack when he slipped and the rest, Dillard, et al followed suit, like lemmings over the cliff.

Put aside whether the Triad did this for self preservation, philosophy or other reasons. The really stupid thing, on the Triad’s part, was to discard Jack before they had any reason to believe that they had a better candidate on the bench to replace Jack- even compared to Jack’s sex clubs, misleading statements, etc..

Now, maybe Topinka will pull a great candidate out of her hat—perhaps Jim Thompson, with perhaps the wealth to self-fund, the state-wide name recognition still there perhaps, the ability to overcome ideological and other differences with the Republican Party base, etc. Who knows, she might do it. But, right now, it is not looking so good for the Republicans in Illinois. And, yes, Rich Miller, Jack Ryan gets a good chunk of the blame. But, plenty more of the blame goes to Chairman Topinka to share in, with her support staff of Kjellander and Edgar. After all the Triad is supposed to consist of political professionals. These are supposed to be people who you would think would know that you don’t send your starter to the bench without looking to make sure the bullpen isn’t empty. Think again.

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of Public Affairs, can be reached at
Updated July 21, 12:30 am., revised July 23 at 1:30 pm

Okay, let's go back to June 22, 2004. The Jack Ryan campaign is in a bit of trouble. Obviously, Jack and his staff made a few major missteps. Nonetheless, most astute political analysts on the scene in Illinois would say Jack still had a shot to win and perhaps more importantly, Jack had a better chance than anyone else to win.

If, even at that time, we were going to do an executive search for the best Republican Senate candidate among our pool of candidates, including Jack (the internal candidate) or a replacement (the external candidates), what would our specifications for the position look like. Remember, you now have the equivalent of a four month campaign, especially if you go with an external candidate. If you, the executive recruiter, had five minutes to interview your client (say, a fair and balanced leader in the Illinois GOP), you would come up with the specs, below (with the importance of the spec rated to the right of the spec):

1. Has ability to self fund or is a great fund raiser. Extremely important

2. Pre-Existing name recognition. Extremely important

3. A strong, identifiable pre-existing base of support. Helpful, but not a must.

4. Attractive on the issues important to the Republican Party Base and able to attract swing votes. Very important.

5. Has some Political Experience holding an elected office. Helpful, but not a must

6. Prior support for the Republican Party: Helpful, but not a must.

7. No record of supporting the Democratic Party: a must.

8. Will be liked by the National Senate leaders and the White House. Very important.

9. Is likeable. This could mean simply good looks, the pol connects with voters, voters warm up to the candidate, the candidate is perceived as trustworthy and straightforward, or simply, for whatever reason, voters just like the candidate. Very important.

Jack Ryan, even after the sex clubs stuff, does well on all except 5, and very well on the most important specs: Nos. 1, 2 and 9.

Senator Rauschenberger does well on all except No. 1, but that is an important one.

Jim Oberweis does well on most except 4, 5 and 8 and has some trouble with 9. And, 4, 8 and 9 are very important.

Kirk Dillard does poorly on the all important Nos. 1 and 2, has problems with No. 4 and there is uncerainty on No. 8.

All of the other potential candidates who decided not to pursue the candidacy have major problems meeting these specs. The candidates who are actively under consideration by the Republican State Party Central Committee also have problems meeting the specs. So, why weren't state GOP Chairman Judy Baar Topinka, RNC honcho and primo lobster Bob Kjellander and elder statesman Jim Edgar able to do this analysis-- which presumably would have compelled them to help Jack recover, rather than push him to withdraw?

Why, indeed? A topic for a separate blog entry.

Moreover, the State Republican Party/party Central Committee, in an extraordinary display of government/political party inefficiency (hard to call their efforts the free market at work), have now consumed 28 days to look for a new candidate to replace Republican Primary winner Jack Ryan. 28 days represents 21% of the time they had until the election, as of Jack Ryan's announced withdrawal on June 25, 2004. A long time to get nowhere?

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of "Public Affairs, can be reached at

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Recent Public Affairs posts: See blog entries, immediately below.

1. Updated July 22, 2004 at 1:30 am, revised at 10:00 am

Carol Marin misses the Reform divide in the Republican Party;

The Chicago Tribune’s sealed records;

Are the Illinois GOP Establishment State Party Leaders (Topinka, Kjellander and Edgar) ready for Reform?

2. Updated July 22, 1:10 am

Berkowitz scoops Chicago Tribune, Dillard says no to a U. S. Senate bid.

State GOP Chairman Judy Baar Topinka says [on Wednesday] to Jeff Berkowitz, "No interviews today."

Jack Ryan says, Who's sorry now? Or, does he?

3. Updated July 21, 12:30 am.

What are the executive recruiter specifications (desired attributes) for the Republican Senate Candidate most likely to win in November?

As of June 25, 2004, did Jack Ryan have a better chance than the available alternative candidates to win the November election against Democrat Barack Obama?

Is Jack Ryan still the best chance to win of the available candidates?

Updated July 22, 2004 at 1:30 am, revised at 10:00 am

Carol Marin misses the Reform divide in the Republican Party;

The Chicago Tribune’s sealed records;

Are the Illinois GOP Establishment State Party Leaders ready for Reform?

In an otherwise insightful and entertaining column in Wednesday’s Chicago Tribune about some of the Illinois Republican Party’s problems with finding a credible candidate for the U. S. Senate race, Carol Marin misses what some, e.g., former Senator O’Malley, call the dominant issue in the Republican Party divide.

Marin states,

“The very thing the Republican Party decries is the thing on which it has relied for too long. Star power. It has had headliners such as Thompson and Edgar but no real party to speak of. Although the GOP under the leadership of state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka has made some headway in terms of building a field operation and a war chest, it has a long way to go.

Personally, I'm hoping Dillard does it.

He has spent important time in the legislature doing some good work. Ironically, a lot of it has been done in concert with Obama. They co-sponsored ethics legislation, death-penalty reforms and bills to videotape confessions and prevent racial profiling.

Dillard and Obama, though friends, represent very different views on abortion, gun control, gay rights and a host of social and fiscal issues.”

Yes, Carol, it is true that Dillard and Obama differ on the above referenced social issues. But, that doesn’t mean that Dillard would not have had trouble rallying, with enthusiasm, a number of the conservatives.

Former Senator and Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat O’Malley will tell you that while no one cares more about the Pro-Life issue and as he puts it, “Bill of Rights,” i.e., especially 2nd Amendment issues than Pat does, the really crucial dividing line in the Republican Party is between those who believe in reform and those who want either (a) to participate in the Daley- [George] Ryan Combine, an entity that Pat views as corrupt or (b) to look the other way with respect to the Combine, or corruption.

When you take this perspective, according to O’Malley that puts conservatives like O’Malley/Rauschenberger/Lauzen/Oberweis and probably Jack Ryan, as well as moderates Corinne Wood and Cook County GOP Chairman and once Cong. Phil Crane challenger and perhaps future Phil Crane replacement Gary Skoien on one side of the divide and perhaps social conservatives Dillard/Daniels/Kjellander and moderates Thompson, Edgar, Judy Baar Topinka on the other side of the divide, i.e. with the Daley- [George] Ryan combine.

According to Pat O’Malley, the above Reform divide is even more important than the abortion divide in the Republican Party. Pat contends that a lot of his base—i.e., the 29% who voted for him in the Gubernatorial primary, as well as a lot of the 44% who voted for Jim Ryan in the race were doing so not only on the “Life,” issue, but also on the Reform issue. Pat didn’t say it, but if Wood is really on the Reform side of the equation, then a lot of her Pro-Choice supporters, 27% in the gubernatorial primary, are also on the Reform side of the equation. Pat’s point is that a lot of those [reform oriented] folks might support Dillard over Obama, but with a lot less enthusiasm that a Raushenberger or Jack Ryan candidacy, thus depressing turnout, etc.

This whole Reform issue, which O’Malley contends is at the core of the schism in the Republican Party—was missed completely by Tribune Columnist Carol Marin and the rest of the mainstream media. Indeed, joining Marin in this omission were the Chicago Tribune reporters who have been covering the Republican Senate Candidate debacle. The Tribune Reporters seem to have missed this whole line of argument and contention by Senator O’Malley.

That is odd, since the Tribune’s Kass is the guy who invented the phrase- Daley/[George] Ryan Combine. That doesn’t mean that all at the Tribune have to agree with Kass, but they should be aware and report on the argument. Perhaps it is something in the culture at the Chicago Tribune, i.e., not to challenge the pillars of the Daley- Ryan Combine, notwithstanding Kass’ columns. I would ask someone at the Tribune about this, but, no doubt, it is analogous to one of their sealed records- like the affidavit the Tribune got from Rod McCulloch to support his claims as to what he saw of the Jack Ryan sealed records. Chicago Tribune reporter John Chase told me he could not make the McCulloch affidavit available because that would be against the Tribune policy—of not providing such information to journalists outside the Tribune. Well, at least John referred to me, implicitly, as a journalist. McCulloch told me he would give me a copy of his affidavit—but now says he can’t seem to find a copy, but he was still looking in the McCulloch archives, as of last week.

Mr. Dold, Mr. Wycliff, please help me out, the “Public’s right to know.” I mean, how proprietary can the McCulloch affidavit be, at this stage of the game. This is more like one academic asking for the data of another academic, so he can check the reliability of the academic’s published article. I am told they ask for such data and get it all the time. Indeed, maybe Dold/Wycliff would like to compare the affidavit with the disclosed sealed records to see who got what right as to what was alleged by Jeri Lynn Ryan.

After all, at the time, the Chicago Tribune labelled the disclosure of the sealed records a "bombshell," a somewhat self-fulfilling Tribune prophecy, which Tribune Editor Ann Marie Lipinski seemed to concede to Tribune Public Editor Don Wycliff was a mistake, with Lipinski implying someone other than the Tribune Editor decides when to use five column headlines above the fold and what to put in those headlines. But, who does decide such things, Mr. Wycliff? Has something been done to make such a mistake less likely? Will the Tribune give me a copy of the McCulloch affidavit? Inquiring minds, including no doubt those of the Medill School of Journalism students, want to know.

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of "Public Affairs," can be reached at

Updated July 22, 1:10 am

Breaking News, Dillard says no to a U. S. Senate bid.

State GOP Chairman Judy Baar Topinka says [on Wednesday] to Jeff Berkowitz, "No interviews today."

Jack Ryan says, Who is sorry now? Or, does he?

Kirk Dillard, apparently the last real hope to dig Judy Baar Topinka’s GOP state chairmanship out of the ditch, told me earlier this evening, after he had finished his dinner, that he would soon call the State Treasurer, in her capacity as GOP State Chairman. He would tell her thanks, but no thanks. He would decline Judy’s solicitation for Kirk to put his hat in the GOP State Central Committee’s ring and almost surely be selected as their Republican nominee for the U. S. Senate. Kirk, in accord with the style and values he has been projecting, said he was in his kitchen, writing out on a legal pad [from Office Max] the statement he would be giving to the Chicago Tribune for Thursday’s paper. He asked me to embargo the story a bit, as he wanted to call Topinka and various national GOP party figures [not Republican Senate Campaign honchos, e.g., Senator George Allen, who is a Jack Ryan guy] before the story broke.

Dillard told me his decision was based on family considerations, including his two young kids. Moreover, as Robert Redford’s character said in “The Candidate,” after he won, to his surprise, his U. S. Senate race, “Now what do we do.” That is, for someone like Kirk, with his relative lack of wealth, a surprising victory over Barack Obama would mean moving to Virginia, not seeing his kids as much as he would like, dealing with “schools issues.” and either spending lots of time commuting on weekends back to Illinois, or ending up with some of the same problems that Senator Fitzgerald had. Some will be skeptical of that concern, but that is what the 10-year state senator and Lord, Bissell and Brook Loop law firm partner said.

More on the Senate race shortly, but I wanted to see if I could get this out in time to scoop my favorite, if sometimes ill-focused, competitor (and Mayor Daley’s favorite recent target) the Chicago Tribune, which, of course, helped create this mess, the mess they call the Illinois GOP and the Daley- [George] Ryan Combine.

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

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Updated July 20, 2004, 10:20 pm

Brenda Holmes/Barack Obama

This week's suburban edition of "Public Affairs," features Brenda Holmes, Deputy Chief of Staff for Education to Governor Rod Blagojevich

Next Week's guest on the suburban edition of "Pubic Affairs," is
the Candidate for the U. S. Senate from Illinois, Barack Obama (D- Chicago).

This week's (Week of July 19) suburban edition of "Public Affairs," features Brenda Holmes, Deputy Chief of Staff for Education to Governor Rod Blagojevich, debating and discussing with show host and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz various education topics, including Out with the old, in with the new State Board of Education Members; firing State Board of Members on a showing of incompetence, malfeasance or neglect; trying to making the state educational bureaucracy more user friendly; Could Gov. Blagojevich have made the state educational bureaucracy more user friendly with his proposed conversion of the independent Board of Education to a Governor controlled agency? Are the customers of the Board of Education the teachers or the parents of students? Discretion with state education expenditures- Who has it? School choice- who should have (or have had) such choice? Rev. Jesse Jackson, Gov. Blagojevich, and/or low income minority parents in failing inner city public schools? Improving teacher competency-has it been done? School vouchers, school choice- A silver bullet to improve education for inner city children?

The suburban edition of "Public Affairs," is regularly broadcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire, Riverwoods and Winnetka.

The suburban edition also is broadcast every Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northfield, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Wilmette and every Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 35 in Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Glenview, Golf, Des Plaines, Hanover Park, Mt. Prospect, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Schaumburg, Skokie, Streamwood and Wheeling.

The show with Deputy Chief of staff for Education Brenda Holmes will also air through-out the City of Chicago, at its usual time slot in the City, this coming Monday night, July 26 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV]

Partial transcripts of the show will be placed on the Public Affairs blog:

Updated July 20 at 2:00 pm

From Guatemala to the Republican Senate candidate to Family Values: Cong. Jerry Weller (R, Morris: 11th Cong. Dist.) becomes a "Chicago Republican, via Guatemala?" Weller's Democratic opponent, Tari Renner, holds a Press Conference tomorrow; Jim Oberweis, still a candidate for the Republican U. S. Senate Nomination and a connection to Weller-Renner?; Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn, Chicago Cubs baseball player Sammy Sosa and Chicago Bears former QB Jim McMahon. Sports, politics and romance- add food and drink and you have it all.

And, some argue, incorrectly, that I am not fair and balanced.

But, here I am-- including on the "Public Affairs," blog some news of Tari Renner's (Democratic Candidate, 11th Cong. Dist.) coming up press conference re some of the recent, strange, romantic and re-location news relating to Cong. Jerry Weller (R- Morris, 11th CD). Another case of Republican family values?

Renner Press Conference Promo:

Tari Renner (pronounced Terry), Democratic nominee for U.S. Congress in Illinois’ 11th District, will ask Jerry Weller how he can represent the 11th district of Illinois after selling his home in Morris, buying a $594,000 condominium on Chicago’s lakefront, and commuting between Guatemala and his vacation property in Nicaragua, at 1 pm. on Wednesday, July 21, 2004.

In addition to his Chicago condo, Weller also owns a home in the Washington D.C. area and vacation property in Nicaragua and has pledged to spend time in Guatemala with his fiancée.

Insert to press conf. promo:

Of course, there are larger issues with Cong. Weller's decision to engage, so to speak. We are told by [] that Cong. Weller's fiancee,Rios Sosa, is a high ranking official in Guatemala (a 10th year Congresswoman) and also a daughter of former Army Gen. Jose Effrain Rios Montt, who seized power in Guatemala in a 1982 coup, but was deposed in another military uprising the following year. Rios Montt, who was widely criticized for human-rights violations during his regime, most recently lost a bid for the Guatemala presidency in 2003.(The Weller-Sosa Engagement adds a whole new meaning to international relations, or indeed to Affairs of State; let alone to is Sammy Sosa related?)

The Daily Southtown via Larry Handlin at (July 14 blog entry) takes Cong. Weller to task:

"We're not going to try to tell Weller whom he should fall in love with. But we are concerned about the potential conflict of interests that his relationship with Rios Sosa presents. Weller is a member of the House International Relations Committee, and his betrothal to a high-ranking official of another country presents an obvious situation in which voters will have a right to wonder whether he is voting in their best interests or the best interests of the woman he loves. The people of Guatemala and its neighbors also will have a right to question American policy and Weller's role in it."

Back to Renner press conf. promo:
Renner, a full-time resident of the 11th district, will speak outside of the home Weller recently sold, yet claims as his permanent residence and voting address.

The event will begin at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, July 21, 2004, at 1309 Union Street, in Morris.

End of Press Conf. promo.

Morris is a bit far for "Public Affairs." My God, it is south of I-80. Do people actually live south of I-80? But, if anyone goes, please keep us apprised of any interesting revelations.

Here is an interesting connection: Morris is almost directly [on a straight line on Route 47] south of Sugar Grove, which I think is the home of Jim Oberweis, who, of course, came in second in the Republican U. S. Senate primary with 25% to Jack Ryan's 34% of the Primary vote. Of course, Jim points out, if this were a horse race, and the winner were disqualified, then the second place finisher would be elevated to first place-- and Oberweis would become the opponent of Barack Obama.

Nice try, Jim, but I don't think it works that way. Oberweis' candid but harsh criticisms of the President's statements on Immigration reform did not sit well with the President and his efforts to court Hispanics. We have a call in to Jim Oberweis and we hope to have more for you later today, or perhaps this evening, from Jim and perhaps, more generally, on the likely replacement of Jack Ryan. Some realistic potential candidates to replace Jack Ryan: State Senators Steve Rauschenberger and Kirk Dillard, Jim Oberweis- or so Jim argues, and of course Jack Ryan [See Eric Zorn's Chicago Tribune column of today]. Although, there are still rumors of yet another sports figure to step into the breach. Jim McMahon, an interesting act to come on the heels of the Ditka candidacy? Stay tuned.

Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of "Public Affairs," can be reached at

Dated July 19, 1:00 am, revised July 20, 12:00 am

Obama (State's rights?), Dillard, civil unions and same sex marriage.

Jeff Berkowitz: As we sit here on July 18, one person who is being mentioned quite a bit to run against you is State Senator Kirk Dillard (R- Hinsdale). You, of course, know Kirk- he was in the State Senate two years before you were, right?

Barack Obama: Yes, I think Kirk preceded me by a couple of years. We have a terrific relationship. Kirk and I have sponsored several pieces of legislation together. My first bill, a piece of ethics legislation that I passed with Kirk Dillard, and [Senator] Paul Simon helped, a dear friend and colleague. That was really the cornerstone for subsequent ethics legislation; we worked on racial profiling together.

Berkowitz: Death penalty reform.

Obama: Death penalty reform. And, so, Kirk and I have a very good relationship.

Berkowitz: Good friends.

Obama: And, if he decided to run, I think he would be an excellent choice by the GOP.
Jeff Berkowitz: Same sex marriage. You favor civil unions but you oppose same sex marriage.

Barack Obama: That is exactly right.

Berkowitz: But you have kind of talked [as if] this could evolve during the next few years as people discuss, consensus

Obama: That is going to be up to the American people.

Berkowitz: Could you see yourself favoring same sex marriage five years from now?

Obama: That is not what I said. What I said was that this was a classic example of an issue that we are going to have to determine democratically on a state-by-state basis. And, I think some states are going to have one perspective and other states are going to have other perspectives.
State Senator and U. S. Senate candidate Barack Obama, interviewed on “Public Affairs,” recorded on July 18, 2004 and scheduled to air in the suburbs during the week of July 26 and in the City of Chicago on Monday, August 2 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Dated July 17, 2004, 12:15 pm

Index of recent blog entries included below this entry:

1. July 16, 9:30 pm.- ABC 7 Local News-- Barthwell the Frontrunner for the Republican Senate Candidate Nomination? Could ABC's report be right? I wouldn't bet on it.

2. July 16, 1:30 pm.- State Sen. Chris Lauzen suggests State Sen. Kirk Dillard, potential Republcan Senate Candidate Nominee, stabbed his colleagues in the back.

3. July 16, 12:20 pm.- State Sen. Kirk (Let's Make a Deal) Dillard to join Republican Senate Candidate debacle?

4. July 16, 11:45 am.- John Cox, is the fifth try at elected office the charm?
Can Cong. Mark Kirk be seduced into the Republican Senate Candidate debacle?

Friday, July 16, 2004

Updated July 16, 2004, at 9:30 pm.

State GOP Leaders are now one day past their targeted date to select a Republican U. S. Senate candidate.

Peculiar Local ABC 7 News reporting or peculiar State GOP insiders? Hard to know which it is. Maybe both.

Who is Dr. Barthwell and why did the ABC local television news report yesterday that she was the frontrunner with some party insiders for the Republican U. S. Senate nomination?

ABC 7 News’ Charles Thomas, on Thursday evening’s local ABC 6:00 pm news show, reported that “there are some insiders in the Republican Party who are calling Dr. [Andrea Grubb] Barthwell the frontrunner [to be tapped for the Republican U. S. Senate nomination].” Well, perhaps Thomas and the Republican Party insiders he speaks with are right, but, based on what is known about Dr. Barthwell, that would make the Republican State Party Leadership even stranger than it’s public image, as it bungles even further the Republican senate nominee selection process.

Dr. Barthwell, an African American doctor and 20 year recovering alcoholic and drug addict, held a Deputy Director position in the Bush Administration’s Office of National Drug Control Policy for two years until she resigned last week to ask State GOP party leaders to consider her for the Republican U. S. Senate Nomination.

However Dr. Barthwell seems to be lacking in the key job specifications for the Republican U. S. Senate nomination:

--Ability to self fund? Apparently not.

--Name recognition? Almost non-existent.

--A strong identifiable base of support. No. It has been suggested by various news reports that African American Barthwell would neutralize Obama’s strong support within the African American community. However, Joyce Washington was an African- American candidate in the Democratic Senate Primary who received 350,000 votes in Cook County in 2002 when she came in second in a three way race for Lt. Governor and therefore might have been expected to win a significant portion of the African American base when she ran in the Democratic Senate Primary. But, Joyce Washington did not do so in the Senate Primary, as Joyce barely registered a point or two, over-all. No reason to expect dramatically better results with African American voters for the unknown Barthwell in a general election contest with Obama.

--Attractive on the issues important to the Republican Party Base and able to attract swing votes. Based on sketchy information, so far- it appears that Barthwell is neither.

--Has some Political Experience: Essentially, Barthwell has none.

--Prior support for the Republican Party: Barthwell has voted in Democratic primaries until recently and has given campaign contributions to such Democrats as Mayor Daley and Cong. Jesse Jackson, Jr., as reported by CBS 2 News’ Mike Flannery.

In addition to the above obstacles to a Barthwell Republican Senate candidacy, it transpired in an AP story that appeared on-line several hours before Thomas’ above referenced television report that a government report, following the filing of a grievance by one of Barthwell’s staff members, characterized Barthwell as engaging in “lewd and abusive behavior,” at a staff gathering [birthday party] while Barthwell was at the Drug Policy office. The report was prepared in response to the filing of a grievance by a staff member. Thomas made no mention of this government report.

Barthwell, a frontrunner for the Republican Senate nomination? That would indeed seem odd. But, then again, no more so than many other things with the current Republican Senate nomination process.

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of “Public Affairs,” can be reached at
Updated July 16, 1:30 pm

Republican legislators stabbed in the back by Dillard, suggests Chris Lauzen

State Senator Chris Lauzen and Rich Miller on Kirk Dillard:

Rich Miller, writing in today's Capitolfax, states that State Senator and potential Republican U. S. Senate Candidate Kirk Dillard has "conservative credentials without scaring anyone."

But, reading the below item, it sounds like State Senator Chris Lauzen could be upset if not "scared," by Dillard's U. S. Senate candidacy and Lauzen has conservative credentials, too.

From an April 15, 2003 posting by State Senator Chris Lauzen on his web site:

...One of the very few exceptions to this rule of a 30-vote “simple majority” is authorization to borrow money, which requires 3/5ths of the Senate or 36 votes. Governor Blagojevich and Democratic majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly want to borrow $10,000,000,000 to refinance a portion of the state pensions’ unfunded liability. This action will cost every man, woman and child in Illinois approximately $4000 (!) over the next 25 years.

In a way, this is like taking out a mortgage on your home to invest in the stock and bond markets. Proponents speculate that the government will make 8% or more over the next 25 years on these investments. If they do, there will be a $1.9 Billion benefit to state citizens. If they don’t, we will lose the savings and this scheme will be looked upon several years from now as just a new, unusually sophisticated and expensive way to raid the pension plans to balance a current budget. Politically-connected investment bankers are already lining up for the cornucopia of $50 million in fees to float the bonds.
Everyone recognized that Democrats needed only 3 votes to pass this doubling of the state’s general obligation debt. Called “plain ol’ defecit financing” by Claire Cohen, a bond analyst with Fitch Investors Service in New York, this is the largest debt issue by any state in U.S. history.

Cynical insiders calculated that they would merely “peel off” several votes with a promise of a road here or a bridge there. But, those of us who have watched with pride and awe for the past 10 years as Republican senators worked as a team to protect Illinois citizens from tax increases, disincentives to job creation, and destructive social policies bet that fiscal responsibility would prevail. Honorable men and women recognize that the important needs of the many outweigh the selfish wants of a few.

Behind closed doors every single Republican senator gave his or her solemn word of commitment to fellow colleagues. Not one of us would vote for the bond issue until all of us were convinced that it was the right thing for all of our constituents back home. The only way any of us had any influence was if we all stuck together. In ten years of work in the Senate, I had never seen a Republican colleague break his word.
Poor judgment and poor political training in the House led Rick “Bull” Winkel to collapse under ordinary pressure of threats to the University of Illinois budget. When he caved in, Kirk Dillard from Hinsdale used it as an excuse saying, “Now that Rick has gone over, everything has changed.” Nothing had changed. Kirk obviously faces less political challenge in his “safe” Republican district than practically any Illinois senator.

To explain the incongruous behavior, some folks in the Senate think that Kirk was still bitterly disappointed that he had not been elected Minority Leader despite having two former governors [Thompson/Edgar] and the current Senate president calling for him. Perhaps this was his revenge. Some believe that Kirk is merely practicing typical, old-time politics. “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” However, there are plenty of people who are sick and tired of Republicans voting like Democrats. We were told over the past four years that we needed to back up George Ryan, and you can see what Illinois voters thought of that.
I realize that no one has died over this. However, the work of 22 loyal Republican senators has now been marginalized for the next two years by the treachery of four. The Four say that they received nothing for their vote. Do they think that we’re really that naive? If giving their word was not enough bond, why should any of these be trusted in the future? What made them think that their individual intelligence exceeds the collective wisdom of our entire caucus?

One person lamented, “These guys are either egomaniacs, naive fools, political prostitutes, or just plain traitors. Every single loyal Senate Republican was stabbed in the back.”
From an April 15, 2003 posting by State Senator Chris Lauzen on his site at

Updated July 15, 2004 at 11:00 pm, revised on July 16 at 12:20 pm

State Senator Kirk Dillard acknowledged on Thursday night on the 10:00 pm NBC Chicago television local news that he will be thinking, over the weekend, about becoming the Republican U. S. Senate candidate. Considering Judy asked him to do so and because of his Jim Edgar relationship, this should go quickly--if he thinks there is enough money to make it worth his effort. But why would “they,” be willing to give Dillard more than Rauschenberger or why would Dillard be willing to take so much less. Why, indeed. “Come on down.” and “Let’s make a deal,” begins in earnest tomorrow. Or, maybe the deal has already been cut. Anyway, if this is a suicide mission, Kirk doesn't give up much-- three months of his time away from the kids. Not real suicide. More like an extended business trip. What’s Kirk Dillard’s motto? Where there is a Dillard, there is a deal; Let’s not make a federal case out of this.

However, if Barack Obama and he are such good friends and co-sponsor so much legislation, as he told us tonight, why can't he pronounce Barack's name correctly?. Of greater importance, Dillard, apparently was one of the four Republican votes that former Fab 5 State Senator and Party Leader Pat O'Malley said [on my show, "Public Affairs," this spring] that RNC member and primo lobster Bob Kjellander secured for Blagojevich on the 10 billion dollar pension bond deal last year that was so important to Blago.

Talking about making a federal case, could that bond vote be a problem, especially in light of the recent news developments related to that issue and the ubiquitous Bob Kjellander? Vetting, anybody? It will be interesting to see how the former prosecutors and now vetters, Fahner and Roberts, vet that one. Indeed, this is sort of the joining together of the old meaning and the new meaning of the phrase, “being wired in Chicago.” The issue is joined?

Or, will the GOP vetters stick to DUIs and business dealings, as the more establishment Illinois GOP Leaders suggested, when the vetting process was announced. If they are going to expand the vetting process, will they go further than sealed child custody records. What do you think the Chicago Tribune thinks? Will they have something to say about vetting Dillard and on what he should be vetted? The public’s right to know. Another test for the Tribune. This will be fun to watch: the Tribune Edit Board wrestling with itself on the issues of ethics and expediency.

Judy Baar Topinka and State Senator Pat O'Malley, two powerful Illinois GOP leaders? Topinka, O'Malley. O'Malley, Topinka. One has been very conspicuous, another less so. Sound like a good television show for "Public Affairs?" Please give me your comments. And, I, in turn will see what O'Malley and Topinka think about it.

Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of "Public Affairs," can be reached at
Updated July 15, 9:30 pm, revised on July 16 at 11:45 am.

John Cox joins the Republican Senate Candidate beauty contest. Should Cong. Mark Kirk (10th Cong. Dist., Deerfield)?

Is the fifth time the charm for John Cox, the latest candidate to seek to immerse himself in the Republican U. S. Senate candidate debacle? This would be Cox's fifth try for elective office, the first three efforts in contested primaries failed and the fourth [in which he was handed the party nomination] is pending and very, very unlikely to succeed. But, read on.

Should and could Cong. Mark Kirk be seduced into accepting the Republican Senate candidacy? Read on.

John Cox announced on Thursday that he would accept the Republican U. S. Senate nomination from the Republican State Central Committee if offered and he will make himself available for the vetting process. John said, "I can step right in and get the job done, and we have to get going." He did not say, "I will run if nominated and I will serve if elected," but I imagine he wishes he had. The press might have been more kind to that comment than his joke about announcing his candidacy for Bears' Coach.

Well, John does have experience in running for office and the senate office, in particular, but as to winning, not so much. He came in fifth in a field of ten in his first electoral foray, the hotly contested Republican Primary in the 10th Cong. District in 2000. At that time he was a long time resident of Glenview (and a neighbor of 2004 Republican Senate Primary Candidate Andy McKenna, Jr.), a north shore suburb in the Tenth Cong. Dist.

The current Republican Congressman in that District, Mark Steven Kirk, won that primary with 31%, Shawn [whatever happened to her] Donnelly was second with 15% and Cox finished fifth with 10% of the vote. There was some not inconsiderable personal bitterness between Kirk and Cox during the race, and time does not seem to have healed that wound. With Kirk now somewhat of a power in the state Republican Party, that is not a plus for John’s senate effort.

As an aside, talking about Cong. Mark Kirk, he would be a strong candidate to run against Obama. Mark is articulate, has been very supportive of Bush on the War and would contest Obama's Paul Vallas base in the suburbs. Obviously, Mark Kirk would not want to give up a very safe seat for a bit of a long shot and the GOP base would not be pleased with his socially moderate views, i.e., pretty much pro-choice, pro gun control and pro gay rights. On the other side of the coin, he has shown the ability to adjust his views- and perhaps he could accommodate the differences downstate. Also, the Democratic candidate in the 10th, Lee Goodman, is not a strong one, and the Illinois GOP should be able to come up with a replacement in the 10th more easily than they can come up with a credible Senate candidate.

Back to John Cox, most of the field in the 10th was relatively moderate and Cox, it was thought, should have done better as the only credible, consistent social and economic conservative. Scott Phelps, the other conservative in the race, picked up 6% of the vote, and his only claim to fame was that of a promoter and participant in the area of abstinence education. For reasons perhaps related to what was characterized as a messy, nasty divorce, social conservative leaders did not warm up to Cox. Republicans, as we have seen with Jack Ryan and the Chicago Tribune, seem to obsess a bit on allegations, as opposed to findings of fact, conclusions of law and lawsuit verdicts. And, one would have thought that at least a few Republicans would have had the benefit of a legal training. Perhaps they did, but continue to think that “alleging it makes it so.” Indeed, this is one of the few beliefs that unites many moderate, i.e., liberal and socially conservative Republicans.

In any case, one such social conservative leader in the 10th, Kathleen Sullivan, rather than support Cox, chose to promote Phelps as the Cox alternative. And, Kathleen knew that adding Scott Phelps to the mix would mean a certain loss for both of those strong pro-life candidates, a cause which was dear to Kathleen-- indeed, she had run almost exclusively on that issue against 10th Cong. Dist. Congressman John Porter in primaries, once obtaining more than a third of the vote. Thus, Kathleen's hostility to John Cox would seem to have been pretty strong.

Undaunted by his showing in the 10th and his cool reception from social conservatives, Cox jumped into the 2002 Republican U. S. Senate Primary and came out of it third out of three candidates with 23% to Oberweis’ 31% and Jim Durkin’s 46%. And, of course, Durkin lost in the General Election to the incumbent senior Senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin, with Durkin getting a lot of the Newspaper Editorial Board support, but garnering only 37% of the vote. Of course, Durkin ran with virtually no financial support of his own or from others, with what we now see to be a shell of a State Republican Party infrastructure and the stench of the George Ryan history and scandal.

Always the optimist, Cox jumped into the 2004 Republican Senate Primary, but then jumped out, endorsing State Senator Rauschenberger when it was clear that the third time was not the charm.

This year, now living in the City of Chicago and re-married, John Cox, active in the Cook County GOP organization under then Cook County GOP chairman Maureen Murphy, was named President of the Cook County GOP organization and head of Operation Recall, which is intended to increase the number of Republican Party precinct captains in Cook County. Cox has survived the Regime Change in that County organization that replaced conservative Murphy and her allies [e.g., Family-Pac Executive Director Paul Caprio] with moderate Thompson guy Gary Skoien and his allies [including socially conservative Pat Sutarik], and Cox’s role heading up Operation Recall, if not as “President,” has continued.

John Cox will continue to be the Republican Candidate for Cook County Recorder of Deeds, pending the decision of the Party Central Committee on his Republican Senate nominee candidacy. Thus, he views this as a no lose situation. If he can somehow emerge as the Party’s senate candidate, he will be thrilled. If not, he has gotten some free publicity for his Recorder of Deeds run.

Cox has three daughters from his first marriage, makes his living from his law firm, financial asset management business and his real estate business. He is viewed as someone who can and will contribute a not insubstantial amount to his campaigns, but in no way is Cox the silver bullet who could or would self-finance. Cox is a bit of a political enigma in that he (1) has become more polished and more professional in his political demeanor over the last five years and (2) has articulated a clear, cogent economic and social conservative message in each campaign, but has never caught the support, let alone enthusiasm, of most conservative leaders in Illinois. Must be the messy divorce thing.

As I mentioned in the immediately preceding blog entry, Rich Miller reports in today's Capitolfax, “a top Republican source said last night that the party [sic] could put forth a ‘surprise’ candidate today. Stay tuned." I don’t think John is the surprise candidate Miller had in mind. Perhaps it was State Senator and Jim Edgar prodigy Kirk Dillard, who seems to be getting closer to seeking what most view as a suicide mission for almost any candidate who does not come to this race with either 100% state-wide name recognition (Ditka) or the ability to self-fund and present one self as an articulate/attractive conservative who can appeal to the center (Jack Ryan, pre-Tribune Demolition Derby). And, if it is, Kirk [let’s make a deal] Dillard should be a blog entry all of his own.

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of "Public Affairs," can be reached at