Thursday, August 18, 2005

Drano needed for Illinois GOP Guv Primary?

Roosevelt University Professor Paul Green, Former Republican PR consultant Kathy Posner and I were guest panelists this morning on WBEZ’s "Eight Forty-Eight," magazine program- hosted by Steve Edwards. The topic was the State of the Illinois Republican Party, including the Republicans’ search for a strong gubernatorial candidate. [See here for more about Steve’s always entertaining and informative program].

A partial transcript of this morning’s program is included below and you may hear it in its entirety [by going here, the WBEZ audio library] ; also in the library is yesterday’s Eight Forty-Eight show regarding the State of the Illinois Dems—what can I say, Steve Edwards [and his talented associate editor Adriene Hill] have borrowed Professor Paul Green’s modified Fox creed— their show, like Paul, is so fair and balanced as to be the white line down the middle of the road].
Steve Edwards: So, what’s the mood in Springfield today, Professor?

Professor Paul Green: Well, the Republicans are gathering as we speak and [pause] they are looking for a giant can of Drano.

Edwards: [much laughter] Why do you say that?

Green: Well, everything seems to be clogged up and they need to get the pipes flushed because as long as Gov. Edgar keeps holding out that he may or may not run, it just simply clogs everything up. And, in order to run against Gov. Blagojevich, who showed yesterday that he will pull out all stops to get re-elected, Republicans have to stop talking to themselves and start talking to the people of Illinois. And, as long as they keep having these intramural squabbles or whatever they are doing, none of this works to their advantage-it only works to the advantage of Gov. Blagojevich.

Edwards: Jeff Berkowitz, why is this field so big, early on.

Berkowitz: would say because there are a lot of openings [opportunities for Republicans]. Rod Blagojevich is in trouble. His approval ratings are down in the 30s. So, contrary to what the good Professor just said, there is a lot of hope out there [for Republicans] and these folks—I mean I disagree a bit with Paul Green, my esteemed former guest on “Public Affairs.”

Edwards: [some laughter].

Berkowitz: ..These folks [candidates] have been running. [State Senator] Steve Rauschenberger hasn’t been sitting around waiting to hear what Jim Edgar is going to say. [Jim] Oberweis has said he is going to run-- whatever Jim Edgar does—he [Edgar] can get in and that’s fine [Oberweis stays in and maybe some others do, as well]. [State Senator Bill] Brady’s been in the race, he’s officially in it. Ron Gidwitz is officially in it. Pat O’Malley has been going to [participating in] the forums—he’s not officially announced, but he’s certainly actively participating [O'Malley did not attend Republican day in Springfield today-- but he told "Public Affairs," that was not an indication that he would not run].

Green: Hey, Jeff. Can you tell me one name Republican who has made an endorsement?

Berkowitz: One name Republican who has made an endorsement?

Green: Who has made an endorsement for Governor.

Berkowitz: You mean--Oh, somebody who has endorsed these folks?

Green: Yeah.

Berkowitz: Oh, its early. People want to wait and see—

Green: Oh, I see. Okay. So, you don’t believe it is clogged up—they’re [not] waiting for Edgar?

Berkowitz: I don’t think it is clogged up.

Green: All right.

Berkowitz: I mean, you know—all the names I’ve mentioned.

Green: Jeff, filing is only three months [more like four] away.

Berkowitz: [DuPage State’s Attorney] Joe Birkett is talking about it. You have eight [candidates], without [Cong.] LaHood, who just dropped out today- which I predicted about a month ago—you can find it on my blog [See here for that prediction and racing form odds for the other candidates]. You know without LaHood, you’ve got eight serious candidates, and I am counting Topinka, I am counting Edgar—you know, let him [Edgar] think about it. He can take a while.

Edwards: Kathy Posner, what’s your take on this field?

Kathy Posner: That’s what is hurting the Party— that there are so many candidates. Last night when I was thinking about who could possibly be somebody that could save the Republican Party in Illinois and while yesterday I was thinking Edgar until I read John Kass’ column [See here] and found out that Edgar is involved with Judy Kjellander [in the joint ownership of a horse farm]—

Edwards: We should point out that she is the wife of Robert Kjellander—the state committeeman [Republican National Committeeman from Illinois]

Posner: who should resign. And, the same way that the Republicans brought in somebody for the U. S. Senate from out of state, I’ve got the name of what can save the State of Illinois and that’s Rudy Giuliani

Edwards: [Lots of laughter].

Posner: The same way when Mike Ditka was thinking of running for the U. S. Senate, but I think if Giuliani came in here, that would energize all the Republicans and maybe we would have a chance to beat Blagojevich.

Berkowitz: Kathy, Kathy, wait a minute—this is Governor of the State of Illinois.

Posner: Right, Rudy Giuliani.

Berkowitz: This is not the U. S. Senate, where you can just pick people randomly, ala- Hillary Clinton—“Suddenly, I am a New Yorker.”
Green: …If I were going to advise a political party… I would certainly say that Governor Edgar you’ve got two weeks to make your decision and then I would simply tell these other people who are out there and who want to run, to start getting endorsements, start raising money, start going on television like Gidwitz has and start talking about the Democratic incumbent’s record…not sit around and discuss whether some day-- some savior, Sir Galahad, will be riding in on a big white horse to save us—it just doesn’t work that way in this state.

Berkowitz: Nobody’s looking for a savior here. What the people are looking for is somebody, maybe, to bang some heads, some party leaders to step up and say—let’s prune this down to a field of two to three, a good competitive primary would be good; it would give those two to three [candidates] name recognition if they don’t already have it. So, I don’t see this great dilemma that Paul is painting here.

Edwards: We still have plenty of time in this cycle, you are saying?

Berkowitz: Yes, and a late answer to Paul’s question: sorry, Professor, but it took a minute-- a major endorsement is Peter icon these days in Illinois—certainly in conservative politics and he has endorsed Steve Rauschenberger...[H]e [Peter] has some wherewithal to help him [Rauschenberger] and help get the people who have the wherewithal, the financial support to assist him. And, Jim Oberweis is running very hard. As you pointed out, Gidwitz has ads up. I don’t know about Gidwitz’s chances at this point, but he is certainly being quite aggressive and Judy Baar Topinka has time to come in. Very likely you’ve got Rauschenberger, you’ve got Oberweis, you’ve got Topinka [ultimately left in the Primary race]. That’s an interesting race. She’s [Topinka] got a shot with two conservatives splitting it [the Republican primary conservative base]. Everybody else gets out.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at