Saturday, May 21, 2005

Rauschenberger to GOP leaders: Pick a GUV candidate.

Jeff Berkowitz: As you look at it now, there are eight candidates being mentioned as potential [Republican] candidates for Governor, including you. There appear to be five or six who probably fall in the category of conservative; one or two in the category of moderate. Do you have to prune down that field? If you have six conservatives [on the Republican primary ballot], do you give the nomination to a moderate such as [State Treasurer] Judy Baar Topinka?

State Senator Steve Rauschenberger: I think the Republican Party has a great opportunity, we can learn from the last cycle. We can either run the Jack Ryan [2004] senatorial primary again where we have a field of eight and the voters never get to know any of the candidates—where name recognition trumps qualifications, or we can have a race like we had in Southern Illinois [in Fall, 2004], where the Party coalesced around a qualified candidate, in Lloyd Karmeier, Judge Karmeier, for a [State] Supreme Court seat, and defeated the Democrats in a Democratic district, even though they [the Republicans] were outspent. So, we can either coalesce around a candidate and be successful in retiring [Governor] Rod Blagojevich, or we can put the Party in a lottery of seven, eight or nine candidates that the voters never really get to know and hope for the best.

Berkowitz: When you say [the Party should] coalesce, who’s the Party? Is it the State GOP Chairman, Andy Mckenna, Jr.? Is he the Party?

Rauschenberger: I think the real leadership in the Party today is really vested in about four people: Frank Watson, the Republican leader in the Senate; Tom Cross, the Republican leader in the House. They stand the most to gain … if we have an effective gubernatorial candidate. We also have Denny Hastert, Speaker of the U. S. House- who is a national leader as well as a statewide leader and [State GOP chairman] Andy McKenna, of course.

Berkowitz: So, you think you could get those four people in a room: Watson, Cross, Hastert, Andy McKenna, Jr., and get them to support State Senator Steve Rauschenberger, is that what you have in mind?

Rauschenberger: I think they don’t have any choice but to get into the room sometime in the next few months and come out with a consensus on a candidate who’s qualified, who’s got the press credibility and who has been able to unite the party in the past. There’s not another candidate in the field that ever put [moderate/liberal] Rosemary Mulligan and [conservative] Chris Lauzen on the same endorsement sheet. I am the only candidate ever to win 27 out of 30 [media ?] endorsements in an eight way race. We need that kind of credibility and experience. I may not be the only one but I am a good example of what the party needs.

Berkowitz:If they do that, if those four individuals rally around you, do you expect that Pat O’Malley and Jim Oberweis defer to them and defer to that decision?

Rauschenberger: It almost doesn’t matter. If candidates choose to run against the core of the party in this kind of situation with Rod Blagojevich and all of his resources, people are going to take a message from that. This is a time to pull the party together, not to tear it apart. The party’s appetite for people who are running just for ego and who won’t listen to leadership is pretty limited.
State Senator and likely Republican Primary candidate for Governor Steve Rauschenberger [R- Elgin], interviewed this afternoon by “Public Affairs,” television show host Jeff Berkowitz, after Rauschenberger spoke, along with five other actual or potential Republican Primary Guv candidates—Oberweis, Brady, Birkett, O’Malley and Gidwitz, at the Cook County GOP Caravan Lincoln Park Zoo event, which was the fourth of six such scheduled gatherings for the GOP GUV candidates and the Republican Party faithful, yesterday and today-- May 21, 2005. Indeed, the Saturday Night Live Caravan event at Joe's on Weed Street [See here], energized by Pat Daly [Republican Professional Network] and Bill Hogan [Republican activist working out of Springfield, Wheaton and elsewhere] is occurring as this is being posted.

Of course, the entire Caravan across Cook County event was energized by Cook County GOP Chairman Gary Skoien and Cook County GOP Executive Director Pat Sutarik, aka the Dynamic Duo of the Cook County GOP Organization, which has been shaking up Cook County politics of late, to the point where Republicans are talking of a serious challenge for the Cook County Board Presidency, in the form of declared candidate and Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica or perhaps Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman, who has said she is thinking about a run for the County Board Presidency, but has not yet declared. And the latest buzz on the Democratic side of that race is that incumbent President John Stroger, much to Mayor Daley's dismay, is not likely to seek re-election.
Potential Guv. Primary Candidate Cong. Ray LaHood [R- Peoria] told the Cook County GOP he could not make it on the Caravan across Cook County due to a conflict. State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka told the Cook County GOP she would not be on the Caravan this weekend because—yup, you guessed it, notwithstanding the poll she commissioned and distributed to her media favorites about how much voters thought of her as a GUV candidate, she is not a candidate for Governor, or at least not yet. Of course, skeptics think she was off the reservation—I mean, off the Caravan-- because (1) Topinka is not ready to talk state issues and (2) Judy Baar does not want those she thinks might be “lesser lights” to benefit from the often favorable media lighting that shines upon her public appearances.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at