Thursday, June 22, 2006

8th CD is now “Leaning Republican Takeover," says Evans-Novak

Revised slightly on Thursday at 5:00 pm.

Evans Novak, in its political report for last week, assessed the damage to Cong. Melissa Bean’s [D-Barrington, 8th CD] campaign of the decision of Change to Win and AFL-CIO unions not to endorse her. Of course, this decision is all about Cong. Bean’s vote for the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and about the unions' difference of opinion with Cong. Bean as to what commitments she had made to the unions regarding her vote on NAFTA and CAFTA type agreements.The Congresswoman has defended her vote in support of CAFTA as good for her district and she has argued that CAFTA possesses the kind of safeguards that she requires to support such trade agreements [See here].

The Evans-Novak report opines that because “unions provided much of the muscle that helped Bean oust Rep. Phil Crane (R) from this heavily Republican district in 2004,” Bean is now in a very difficult position. The political report argues that although the unions will not back McSweeney, they may back a third-party candidate, Bill Scheurer, which Evans-Novak thinks would be “devastating for Bean.”

Scheurer, a generally far left, pro-union, anti-Iraq war, anti-Afghanistan war, anti-free trade [although he disagreed with that characterization of his trade views when we spoke on Wednesday evening], pro-balanced budget candidate [See here] has to survive his first hurdle, which is getting and filing more than 13,950 “good signatures,” by this Monday so that he can get his name on the ballot as the “Moderate Party’s,” 8th CD candidate. Scheurer didn’t want to say, last night, how many signatures he planned to file, nor would he say how many signatures he needed to survive what I view as a likely challenge from the Bean campaign. Scheurer said he is not sure Cong. Bean will file a challenge to his petition. Although, pragmatic politics would suggest a supporter of hers will.

Scheurer is a smart, thoughtful, articulate proud father of four grown children. He has been married to the same woman, an artist, for the last 35 years, with the last 27 spent in the 8th CD, in Lindenhurst in Lake County. Scheurer told me, last night, he got about 23 % of the vote in the Democratic Primary against Melissa Bean in 2004, and he claims he did no campaigning in that race. Moreover, Scheurer argues that running as an independent against Cong. Bean and David McSweeney, he will do much better than he did in the primary because the Democrats voting in the general election will be much more diverse than they were in the primary and Scheurer also will have much greater access to Independents and Republicans in the general election. Scheurer disputes the notion that he will pull votes primarily from Democrats.

Although I have placed some labels on Scheurer, he doesn’t much like labeling himself and he is a bit more nuanced than the labels suggest. For example, some have labeled him Pro-Life, but his views don’t fit that position as commonly defined in politics. He views life as sacred, whether the issue be the War, Capital Punishment or Abortion. As to abortion, though, he would like the issue to be returned to the state legislatures and he would urge them to make abortion illegal, with extenuating circumstances, e.g., life of the mother, health of the mother, rape, incest and perhaps other exceptions. Scheurer might be willing to narrow the health of the mother exception, but not by enough to satisfy most pro-lifers.

So, what would an Scheurer entry in 8th CD mean? I don’t know about “devastating,” for Bean as Evans Novak asserts, but Bean won by only 4 points or 9,000 votes when she took the District from Republicans and term limited 35 year incumbent Phil Crane in 2004. A little late, some Republicans would argue; Indeed Cook County GOP Chairman Gary Skoien, retired U. S. Senator and McSweeney booster Peter Fitzgerald and McSweeney, himself, tried to knock out Crane in the 90s.

The election could be close enough for even a point or two by Scheurer to tilt the election to David McSweeney, who characterizes himself as an “independent conservative,” running in a district that went 56-44 for Bush in 2004, but gave Senator Obama a good majority over Alan Keyes, as did most of Illinois, with Senator Obama winning that race, 70% to 27% statewide. .

The Evans Novak report concludes that the 8th CD is now “Leaning Republican Takeover.” However the Report notes that some top Republicans remain skeptical. Very likely those could be the Country Club Republicans in the U. S. Chamber of Commerce who are likely to roll out their endorsement of Congresswoman Bean fairly soon. This will be based, no doubt, on their assessment that Congresswoman Bean has voted their way more than 70% of the time, including the CAFTA vote, and their strong desire to reward Dems, e.g., the CAFTA House 15, who go the Chamber of Commerce way from time to time.

The Chamber’s critics would argue that McSweeney is likely to be with them 90% to 95% of the time and he would be voting for Speaker Hastert, as opposed to Speaker Pelosi.

The Chamber’s response? We’re Country Club Republicans, we don’t have to give a response.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at