Friday, August 17, 2007

The Fat Lady has sung: Coach Hastert is out. Let the 14th CD Games begin

Revised slightly on Friday at 9:00 pm and on Saturday at 10:30 pm, See below re staffing: Jeff Davis worked on the Jack Ryan 2004 U. S. Senate campaign, but not on the campaign of Jack Ryan's replacement Republican nominee, Alan Keyes. Public Affairs regrets the error.

Coach Hastert hangs up his spikes

The Fat Lady sung this morning at the Kendall County Courthouse. The accidental, but longest serving Republican Speaker of the U. S. House, hung up his spikes today--as his mentee, Republican Illinois House Leader Tom Cross put it. Former Speaker, High School wrestling coach and Cong. J. Dennis Hastert [R-Batavia, 14th CD] will not seek re-election in 2008 and there is speculation he will not serve out the remainder of this term. [See here and here].

Hastert Endorsement

Reliable sources suggest Hastert is “leaning,” toward endorsing the wealthy dairyman and Investment Fund entrepreneur Jim Oberweis (Sugar Grove), perhaps as the lesser of what the former third-in-line to be President views as “several evils,” [See, below], or at least not totally satisfactory candidates to replace him. That is, the Republican field already includes conservative State Senator Chris Lauzen (R-Aurora)-- who has filed the appropriate papers to permit him to raise money, as has conservative Jim Oberweis and as will, if he has not already done so, said to be moderate Republican Mayor Kevin Burns of Geneva. If Hastert does endorse a candidate, it is not expected to come for a while.

Another Classic Conservative Split?

There is also the possibility of other Republicans filing. However, with the field as it is, Mayor Burns is hoping for a classic split by the conservatives to allow him to win in a Republican Primary that should be dominated by conservative voters. Burns has raised money professionally for others and he is confident he can do it for himself. Of course, the above scenario assumes no additional moderates enter to divide Burn’s vote. Others argue there simply aren’t enough moderate Republican primary voters in the 14th CD to come close to electing Burns—assuming he is a “moderate.”

Lauzen’s Reputation

Lauzen has a track record of fifteen years of conservative votes in the Illinois Senate, a record of exercising independence from the Party’s so-called leaders when he thought it was appropriate and he is well respected, in general, in the Illinois conservative community. Indeed, it is Lauzen’s independence from Illinois “Party leaders,” that, among other things, has troubled Hastert. Coach Hastert might call it a lack of “team spirit.” On the other hand, it is that same independence that stands Lauzen in good stead with the Illinois conservative community. You can watch Senator Lauzen here.

Also on Lauzen's resume is that he was one of the Fab 5: Five "fabulous state senators," who entered the Illinois senate in 1992, each of whom was identified with or appreciative of the virtues of free enterprise and small business. In addition to Lauzen, they were Peter Fitzgerald, Pat O'Malley, Steve Rauschenberger and Dave Syverson.

Peter Fitzgerald went on to become an icon for Illinois conservative Republicans, serving only one term in the U. S. Senate but being responsible for cleaning up a great deal of Cook County and Chicago public corruption with his successful drive to bring in an outsider, Patrick Fitzgerald, as the U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Patrick O'Malley gave up his seat to run, unsuccessfully, for his Party's nomination for Governor, as did Steve Rauschenberger for Lt. Gov., but both continue to be well respected by Illinois conservatives, and perhaps by Republicans more generally. Dave Syverson [R-Rockford], now serving in his 15th year, continues to be a well-respected state senator. You will no doubt be hearing more about the Fab 5 in Lauzen's campaign.

Senator Lauzen also thinks he can raise sufficient money to get his message out. This could be a tough challenge. He surely was not able to raise the necessary funds to keep up with Dan Hynes in Lauzen’s 1998 general election campaign for State Comptroller, which Democrat Hynes won fairly easily. Of course, that was a statewide campaign against someone said to have pretty strong support from the then healthy Chicago Democratic Party machine. This is a congressional race, for which Lauzen’s senate district is a much more important base than was the case in 1998. A very different race, Lauzen would no doubt argue.

Oberweis’ wealth

Oberweis, with a net worth estimated a few years ago to be in excess of fifty million dollars, has filed election papers indicating he “intends to spend two and half million dollars,” in his primary and the same amount in the general election, if he wins the Primary. That would be a level of generosity to his own campaign that Jim Oberweis has not exhibited in his three, losing statewide Republican primaries in the last five years.

And, the five million dollars does not include the Oberweis ice cream store TV ads that have been running recently and featuring Jim Oberweis. Money, or more accurately wealth, matters, although it is not always decisive. Talk to, among others, once upon a time would be U. S. Senator from California Michael Huffington,who lost the race, lost his wife [or did he?] and lost tens of millions of dollars, not even counting what his divorce cost him.

Oberweis’ reputation

In Oberweis’ first U. S. Senate run in 2002, he had a rocky start on the abortion issue, upsetting many in the Pro-Life community with his statements and perhaps his announced position on the abortion issue. Since then, he has exhibited more of a consistently culturally conservative position, albeit upsetting some Republican establishment figures, like Bush and Hastert, with his vocal, anti-illegal immigration views. Some suggest those views are anti-immigration views, as well. Oberweis vehemently denies that assertion.

Further, his immigration views and other actions suggest a certain amount of independence by Oberweis from the National and State Party establishment. Indeed, he has openly described himself in the past as an outsider, who resists the notion of being or becoming a “politician.” All of that may, at the end of the day, keep Hastert neutral and uninvolved in the 2008 Republican Primary.

Staffing up.

Oberweis is staffing up, with David From and Brad Hahn of Burnham Strategies, signing onto Team Oberweis. From and Hahn are former Hastert staffers, helping to fuel some of the speculation of a future Hastert endorsement of Oberweis. That speculation is fueled, as well, by the fact that Hastert did endorse Oberweis in his first U. S. Senate primary race in 2002 and by the long standing differences that have characterized the Hastert-Lauzen relationship.

Bill Pascoe and Jeff Davis of the Victory Media Group have also signed onto the Oberweis campaign to be a General Consultant to the Campaign and to be involved in media production services for the campaign. Both Pascoe and Davis worked, in addition to many other political campaigns, on the Jack Ryan U. S. Senate Campaign in 2004. Davis worked on both the Jack Ryan Republican Primary win and on Jack Ryan's short-lived general election campaign. Pascoe was involved with Ryan's short-lived general election campaign, but not the Primary. Both Pascoe and Davis continue, with Dan Proft, as principals in Urqhart Media.

The Democrat Field

Of course, all of the Republican candidates are surely perceived by Republican Cong. Hastert as much less “evil,” than the three 14th CD Democratic Primary candidates: Jotham Stein, John Laesch and Bill Foster. In politics, evil is a relative concept, both within and across political parties.

Stein on Cable and Streaming

You can watch lawyer Jotham Stein on your computer and watch him this Monday night on “Public Affairs,” at 7:30 pm on ACTV-10 in Aurora, and surrounding areas and in Chicago at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21; Stein, a Princeton and Stanford Law School grad, lives down the road from Geneva Mayor Burns, just across the border in St. Charles. It’s a small world.

Laesch Streaming

Hastert’s opponent from 2006, John Laesch (Yorkville) [Watch here], is running again. Laesch is a military vet with counter-terrorism experience and a specialty in Middle- Eastern intelligence work. In 2006, Laesch won a competitive primary and then held Hastert to 60%, Hastert’s worst margin of victory since he won election to the District in 1986 with 52% of the vote. Not bad for a relatively young candidate with little experience, organization and resources. On the other hand, 2006 was, of course, a terrible year, nationally, for the Republican Party and Cong. Hastert was hit with the allegations that he was partially responsible for the House Page scandal.

Foster, a Democrat with big bucks to match Oberweis?

Multi-millionaire, physicist and entrepreneur Bill Foster rounds out the Democratic Primary field, for now. Foster has not appeared on “Public Affairs,” but we anticipate he will do so in the reasonably near future, as we anticipate will Jim Oberweis.

At the end of the day, as they say, Cong. Hastert is officially not a 2008 candidate and it looks like the 14th CD has at least six candidates vying to replace him. Let the games begin. We've already thrown out the first hardball
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at You may watch "Public Affairs," shows with Presidential Candidates Richardson, Obama, McCain, Giuliani and Cox and many other pols at