Thursday, May 05, 2005

Republican Buzz: McKenna, Skoien, Judy, CRWN et al

Fact: Andy Mckenna, Jr., State GOP Chairman, stated during his remarks to the Chicago Republican Women's Network, ("CRWN"), last Tuesday night at the Union League Club in the Loop that the State GOP had done a national search for a new executive director, and the search has been narrowed to two finalists from Florida. I don’t think either Governor Jeb Bush or Anita Bryant is one of them. Who are they? Andy wasn’t saying. He did say that he expected to have an Executive Director within a week.

Fact: The CRWN [President Kathy Thomas, who bravely and perhaps sacrificially carried the Republican flag in the land of Democrats against Cook County Clerk David Orr in 2002] event drew about 70 people, who were willing to pay a nominal fee to socialize and listen to City GOP Chairman Clark Pellett, Cook County GOP Chairman Gary Skoien and Andy McKenna give their respective status reports and energizing speeches to the party faithful. Two Guv candidates, Oberweis and Gidwitz, were there to press the flesh. Possible Guv Candidate, former State GOP Chairman and current State Treasurer Judy BaarTopinka was not.

Opinion and Fact: As a sometime critic of Andy McKenna, Jr.’s somewhat stiff style, I, and others, took note that Andy was a much improved speaker last week over his 2004 U. S. Senate candidate primary style. McKenna eschewed the lectern and spoke to the crowd, mikeless, in a clear, comfortable, relaxed voice. It was a good talk that showed he is quite comfortable in his role as State GOP Chairman, is working quite hard at it, and might turn out to have been the right person for the job. Let’s see how he does with the Executive Director and Communications Director selections [See, below].

Skoien, who is really a natural at this sort of thing, stayed with the lectern and mike, but did his usual, high energy, entertaining speaking job, leading me to ask if he might be giving some thought to running in the 8th CD, something he did twice before against Cong. Crane. Skoien told me he has no interest in such—he has a busy business, wife and young kids—indicating that the Cook County GOP position is more than enough, in terms of political activity, to occupy him for the moment.

Fact: Jason Gerwig, State GOP Communications Director said yesterday that he had nothing to add to Andy’s words of last week regarding the Executive Director. Gerwig indicated he would call me when the new ED was announced. Today, no word from Jason. Stay tuned.

Speaking of Jason, he will become Communications Director (or something like that) for the DuPage County Board, effective this coming Monday. Gerwig will presumably work fairly closely with Bob Schillerstrom, the Board’s Chairman, but with the Board, in general, said Jason. Schillerstrom is also a relatively new partner with Indianapolis based Ice Miller’s Chicago office. Ice Miller, with 220 attorneys in all of its offices, can be expected to grow its Chicago office fairly significantly in the near future.

Rumor: Of course, Schillerstrom had been mentioned prominently a year ago, or so, as a potential Guv Candidate, but not so much of late. Now, those in the know think he might still be thinking about a State-wide run for one of the so-called lesser constitutional offices.

Rumor/Opinion: Dan Rutherford announced at a Kirk Dillard function that if State Treasurer Topinka runs, as all expect, for Guv, Dan intends to run for Treasurer. If Judy stays put, Rutherford will vie for SOS in hopes that Jesse White will “tumble,” out of office. As State Senator and 6th Cong. Dist. Republican Primary candidate Peter Roskam once said in a very different context, that’s a “tall drink.” Indeed, it is.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at