Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Topinka: the Lady knows how to Campaign

Based on the Mike Flannery, Andy Shaw and Rich Samuels videos, below, of Topinka’s debut this morning, I’ll say this about Judy Baar Topinka, Illinois’ newest official candidate for Governor: the mainstream media may be right about one thing, the lady knows how to campaign and she has a certain sense of style.

For Andy Shaw’s video report of today’s morning festivities at the Klas restaurant, where Judy was flanked by pro-choice former two term Governor Edgar and pro-Life DuPage County Chairman, State Senator and former Edgar Chief of Staff Kirk Dillard, go here, but in a nutshell:

…They [Republican Guv Candidates Oberweis, Rauschenberger, Brady and Gidwitz] all claim to represent a new approach to the discredited GOP politics of the past and that will be the key issue in the Primary, concluded ABC-7 News’ Shaw.

The conclusion by Shaw is sort of, but not quite, the same as that included in former Senator Pat O’Malley’s political catechism:

Q: What is the real schism in the Republican Party?

A: The real schism is not between the Pro-Lifers and the Pro-Choicers but between the Refomers and the non-Reformers.

I should note that former Governor Edgar scoffed at O'Malley's sermon when I asked him if he agreed with Pat. I wonder what Judy would say.

And Andy Shaw did include some unflattering clips of Topinka dancing with George Ryan in another era, a time when Judy appeared heavier and George appeared happier, and perhaps lighter on his feet.

For Mike Flannery’s video report of “This Morning at Klas,” [not to be confused with “My night at Maud’s,”], go here, but in a nutshell:

Flannery concludes,

Republican conservatives are upset that Judy Baar Topinka departs from the party platform not only on abortion, but in her support of gay rights, too. While only about a third of the party’s primary voters agree with her on those social issues, she insists that other issues, pocket book issues primarily, will carry the day.

CBS-2 News' Flannery appears to be suggesting that O’Malley might be wrong and the abortion schism is still the dominant theme. Jude disagrees with Flannery, and while unlikely to be agreeing with O’Malley, Jude says essentially, “it’s the Economy, Stupid.”

But, then there is this, which I got from an excellent video collection of this morning’s sound bites put together by WTTW’s Rich Samuels, and which aired on this evening’s Chicago Tonight lead segment [BTW, as everyone seems to agree, Rich Samuels is the best thing Chicago Tonight has going for it: he should be given more time to do what he did tonight- the guy knows how to write and he has an excellent ear and eye for the kind of political news that makes for good substance and good television]:

Andy Shaw: Will you pledge that you won’t raise sales or income taxes?

Judy Baar Topinka: I’m not going to take any kind of pledges on taxes for the simple reason [that] I think it is irresponsible to do that. And, I think we have seen that-- around the United States as natural disasters have struck. You know, we always have the threat of terrorism out there; Avian Flu may be coming down the line. What do I know? What do you know?

I wonder how Republican Primary voters, sitting around their kitchen tables [especially the forgotten middle class, as Rauschenberger likes to say] will react to Judy Baar Topinka declining to take the “no tax increase pledge.” Gidwitz has also declined to take the pledge-- so on this one, he is in the same box as Judy.

Rauschenberger has almost taken the pledge, but leaves himself a little wiggle room. Oberweis and Brady both say, “give me that pen, I’ll sign it in a heartbeat.”

This could be the sleeper issue of the Primary and the General. Blagojevich has taken the pledge not to increase the sales or income tax and he kept the pledge—or so he argues. Gidwitz, Brady, Oberweis and Rauschenberger would argue that Blagojevich’s claim is misleading or plainly wrong, since he had fee and other tax increases equal to about $400 million. Judy, as well as Gidwitz, might have trouble making that argument effectively, in light of their antipathy even to the tax pledge that Blago took and kept, not to mention to the broader one for which their competitors have signed up.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at