Friday, March 04, 2005

Jack Franks to challenge Hot Rod?

Rich Miller, in today’s Capitol Fax reports the rumor that State Rep. Jack Franks (Jack!) is being offered a million dollars by Ald. Mell to run against Mell’s Hot Rod son-in-law, Gov. Blagojevich. That is, Mell is alleged to have said he would raise that much for Jack!

But think about the nuttiness of a Jack Franks run against Rod. The Guv’s weakness, at least with the Goo-Goos, is that the Guv is said to be ethically challenged, allegedly trading governmental board seats for campaign contributions, etc. Also, Hot Rod has upset various segments of the Democratic base because of his unwillingness to agree to a boost of the sales and income taxes or an expansion of casinos as a way to finance all the big spending programs of various and sundry Democratic constituencies.

So, what are the Franks supporters arguing? That Jack’s run would be built around Jack’s great ethical record and his willingness to raise taxes and throw lots of money into new and expanded programs, e.g., education, health care and government jobs projects? There are several problems with that kind of a Franks’ campaign for governor.

One, when it comes to being ethically challenged, Franks is no slouch. Look at his alleged co-mingling of his legislative and private practice interests, apparently so co-mingled that it is alleged that he may have forgotten which letterhead was more appropriate for various letters. Two, Jack! is supposed to be a “conservative Democrat.” That’s presumably what got him elected in Republican McHenry County. Talk to Family-Pac’s Executive Director, Paul Caprio. Further, wouldn't the serious Democratic Party Leadership just love to bet on a big spender, big taxer as someone who could win in the General Election? I don't think so.

So, the idea of Franks running as the ethically pure, yet big taxer, big spender answer to that “unethical, austere, penny pinching,” Hot-Rod is well, ludicrous.

And, three, there is that great cache that Mell brings to a Franks race. Think about it, Franks is going to argue—"Look ma, aren’t I great? I have that well known champion of the people- Ward Boss Dick Mell on my side-- a guy thrown over-board by Blago with the likes of Dominick Longo and John “Quarters” Boyle, as my fearless financial backer." Somehow that image doesn’t play so well. Not just in Peoria, but not anywhere.

Four, like most other pundits, I have seen, read and heard quite a bit about Gov. Rod Blagojevich. On the other hand, I have heard Jack Franks on Tom Roeser’s Political Shoot-out quite a bit [at one point, he was almost a regular guest], read a little about the guy and that’s about it. I even tried to have Jack! on my television show, but his aide said Jack! simply didn’t have the time.

On the other hand, Gov. Blagojevich, in the midst of a busy campaign, took the time to tape our show and do many, many separate interviews. I mean, you have to give the guy credit for that. Heck, he even stood there and answered questions about Dominic Longo and John “Quarters,” Boyle.

So, I tell you, I have seen these two, heard these two, read about these two and interviewed Rod extensively, face to face, so trust me on this, Jack Franks is no Rod Blagojevich and most importantly Rod knows it and so does Jack.

Even taking into account Rich Miller's reports of Jack Franks' father's fishing trips, attended by Mell-- Jack! will count himself a lucky man if he gets to run for anything statewide, and if he does, it ain’t going to be Governor. Jack is a good man and as Dirty Harry said, “A good man knows his limitations.”

And there is the tid-bit, below, from State Senator Pam Althoff, who knows Jack! and his wife quite well, as Jack Franks is the state rep. for half of Sen. Althoff’s 32nd District, with State Rep. Mike Trion [R] handling the other half.

Indeed, timing is everything in politics and TV, so you can watch the “Franks” segment and others on this Monday night’s “Public Affairs,” which airs through-out the City of Chicago at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV]. The show, which features Sen. Althoff, a possible candidate in the 8th Cong. Dist. Republican primary, is discussed further, with a partial transcript, at the blog entry linked to the right, or below, as “Sen. Althoff will not shut door on run against Cong. Bean.”
Jeff Berkowitz: I think [State Rep.] Jack Franks [D- Woodstock] has said he has thought about taking on Governor Rod Blagojevich in the [Democratic] Primary. Have you heard that?

State Sen. Pam Althoff: I have not heard that.

Berkowitz: Do you think he might?

Sen. Pam Althoff: Hmm. I have always felt—

Jeff Berkowitz: Maybe he said his wife wanted him to, or something like that. [on Tom Roeser’s radio show, Political Shoot-out, about a year ago; Roeser’s show airs every Sunday night, WLS 890 AM- Radio, 8:00 pm to 9:00 beaming from Chicago and can be heard as far away as UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke in North Carolina, or on the web].

Sen. Pam Althoff: That could be, I have always felt-

Jeff Berkowitz: Do you know his wife.

Sen. Pam Althoff: Very, very well.

Jeff Berkowitz: Do you think she wants him to? Does she want him to take on Rod Blagojevich?

Sen. Pam Althoff: She is a great campaigner. Debbie Franks will support her husband at whatever he elects to do.

Jeff Berkowitz: Okay, but she doesn’t have any particular desire to see her husband take on Rod Blagojevich?

Sen. Pam Althoff: I, I don’t know.

Jeff Berkowitz: You don’t know. You haven’t talked to her about that?

Sen. Pam Althoff: I can’t answer. I have never talked to her about that. Debbie Franks and I very rarely ever talk about politics. We talk about where we can get the best deals on clothes.

Jeff Berkowitz: Now, are you feeding into a stereotype when you say something like that?

Sen. Pam Althoff: Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

Jeff Berkowitz: It’s okay for women to talk about getting the best deal on clothes as opposed to politics.

Sen. Pam Althoff: I think so. I think so.

Jeff Berkowitz: Are you a clothes hawk? Or, what do they call people who are always shopping for clothes.

Sen. Pam Althoff: Hmmm. I, I don’t know. But, I am always looking. I am always looking. I am a Republican, I am always looking for the best possible deal. So that I use my money wisely.

Jeff Berkowitz: There you go. A definition of the Republican Party.
State Senator Pam Althoff, recorded on February 20, 2005 and as is airing on the Suburban edition of Public Affairs this week [week of Feb. 28] and on the City of Chicago edition of Public Affairs on Monday night, March 7 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21. See the link, to the right or below, to the Althoff blog entry for a detailed “Public Affairs,” suburban airing schedule.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at