Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Updated January 12 at 12:30 am
News flash from Cook County GOP Chair Gary Skoien: Life is fragile. Yes, but I am betting Skoien knew that last month and perhaps even before then. The State GOP Chairmanship: still Andy McKenna, Jr.’s to lose. It was Tsunami Keyes in 2004. Will it be Tsunami McKenna in 2005?
Cook County GOP Chair Gary Skoien has dropped out of the State GOP Chairman race because of the Tsunami [Illinois Leader, January 11]. Personally, I like the “I need to spend more quality time with the wife and kids” more than the Tsunami line. For one thing, Tsunami is harder to spell and pronounce than wife and kids.

I might have called Skoien to try to get a bit more of a straight answer than he gave the Leader, but his credibility has diminished of late, so why call. There was that whole thing about former Governor Jim Edgar supporting Skoien for State GOP Chair, but Skoien didn’t know if we could say Edgar was making calls on Skoien’s behalf and then the Tsunami thing kind of overcame Edgar’s support, and Edgar, you might remember, said in 1990 he was going to become our Education governor. From dust to dust, ashes to ashes, Edgar to Skoien, another dream unfilled.

So, I decided either to call the State GOP’s press secretary, Jason Gerwig, or to flip a coin to decide what to say about this stuff. After thinking it over for two seconds, I decided the coin toss would be a more “reliable source.”

And then there were six: McKenna, McGlynn, Nalepa, Cox, Oberweis and maybe Meyer. For reasons that don’t warrant going into, you can cross off Oberweis, Cox and Meyer. Indeed, when I last spoke with Oberweis, he wasn’t planning to interrupt his travel schedule to show up for the grand State Central Committee meeting this coming Saturday, essentially on the advice of one of the State Central Committee (“SCC”) members in the know.

That leaves McKenna, McGlynn and Nalepa [Sounds like a good law firm, but only McGlynn is a lawyer]. As of now, McKenna has about 55% of the SCC weighted vote, but some members perhaps could be persuaded to change their commitment. That is, some of Andy’s support is of the soft variety. McKenna is viewed as reliable with no skeletons [Trust me, there are no sex clubs in this guy’s life], sturdy but lackluster, and, of course, decent. Lacking in charisma and personality, one SCC member described Andy McKenna, Jr. to me as almost as interesting as watching wallpaper dry [even less interesting than watching paint dry] but the SCC member noted that Andy, Jr. did tend to grow on you, or at least he grew on that particular SCC member.

McGlynn has some votes committed to him, perhaps 20%, and is known to be much more experienced in this game and more of a forceful, dynamic and compelling speaker than McKenna, which, could turn out to be important. His drawback is he resides in downstate Belleville and thus is much less accessible to the television media in Chicago than say Nalepa, who lives in the Chicago Metro area, is very experienced at this game, is very articulate and connects with people almost as well as Mr. Bill, except Nalepa is actually sincere about it. Also, Nalepa knows how to raise money, as opposed to, say, just having a nice donor list and knowing how to ask wealthy friends of his dad and his own for money, which is Andy McKenna, Jr.’s strength.

Nalepa is a good compromise choice if Andy’s backers start to worry about his noticeable weaknesses and if they don’t, for geographic or other reasons, want to go to McGlynn. Nalepa is great with the press, works a room extremely well, has enthusiasm that is contagious, has the discipline of a West Point guy, almost beat Cong. Bill Lipinski [D- Chicago, 3rd CD] in ’94 [notwithstanding Chairman Topinka’s dual endorsement of Nalepa and Democrat Lipinski] and is very high energy.

Unfortunately, for Jim Nalepa, he just doesn’t have many, if any, votes on the State Central Committee at this point, and those folks don’t seem to believe in deciding things based on who can do the best job. Remember, gentle readers, these are the same people who brought you Alan Keyes. They may be somewhat masochistic and like to have at least one major, not so natural, disaster to their credit each year. It was Tsunami Keyes in 2004. Will it be Tsunami McKenna in 2005? Well, I have to admit, Skoien does have a legacy in this race, after all. He reminded us of the versatile uses of the word—Tsunami.
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