Saturday, January 21, 2006

Leader Cross on City Desk with NBC-5's Ahern

Tom Cross, Republican Leader in the Illinois State House, taped City Desk on Friday afternoon. Mary Ann Ahern, general assignment reporter at NBC-5, sat in for City Desk’s regular host Dick Kay, for the second time since Kay has been on vacation [the Kay vacation started in December; Kay is expected to return in February and then decide whether he is retiring]. Ahern, who interviewed Cardinal George on City Desk in December, has some background as a political reporter.

When asked by Ahern about the Republican Primary for Governor, Leader Cross noted that State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka is leading in the polls and that Blagojevich is vulnerable in the general election.

Although State GOP leaders, e.g., State GOP Chairman McKenna and Leader Cross profess neutrality in the Primary, they usually find a way to give Judy a boost, whether it is to point to Judy’s proven ability as a vote getter—citing her three wins in her state-wide Treasurer general election races, her general popularity, or as today, her lead in the polls. You might say it is a non-endorsement, endorsement. And, in the event that Topinka-Birkett started trending south, you get the impression the non-endorsement, endorsements might become endorsement, endorsements—so to speak.

One thing notable about Leader Cross’ shot selection today was the absence of discussion of what many Republicans like to call the culture of corruption in the Illinois Democratic Party, which those pols argue exists, among other Democratic strongholds, in the Blagojevich, Stroger and Daley administrations. This is odd in that it is said the public corruption issue plays well with middle-class suburban voters, said to be a demographic that interests Republican State House Leader Cross.

The Republicans who bring up the State of Illinois corruption issue tend to be the Republicans who say that the real schism in the Party is between the Reformers and the non-reformers. The Republicans who repeat that line with ease are people like former Senator Pat O’Malley, Lt. Gov. candidate and State Senator Steve Rauschenberger and Gubernatorial candidate Jim Oberweis. The Republicans who stumble over the line are former Governor and Topinka backer Jim Edgar; National Republican Committeeman, Edgar friend and Topinka ally, Bob Kjellander; and the Thompson-Edgar progeny, e.g., Topinka Campaign Manager Terry Barnich.

The Democratic national leaders make a point of never leaving home without their chant of the argument that there is a Culture of Corruption in the National Republican party. You have to wonder why not all Republicans want to flip that argument around when doing Illinois politics. Perhaps we will get to ask that question to Leader Cross some day. We tried to ask that and other questions today, after the Ahern taping, but alas, Leader Cross said no dice [and probably no keno].

In any case, the Ahern interview with Cross is well worth watching, and you can do so, in the Chicago Metro area Sunday at NBC-5, starting around 9:40 am and running, with some breaks, until about 9:56 am, or so.
"Public Affairs" Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at