Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Go ahead Eric Zorn, make my day: Trundle out the heavy artillery.

Links added and post text slightly revised at 9:05 am on Tuesday.
Eric Zorn, father of blogging in Chicago and Chicago Tribune columnist and blogger has grown tired of Jim Oberweis and suggests he commit political suicide. Follow the lead of Jack Ryan, so to speak, albeit without the sex clubs.

Far be it from me to offer advice to the Republican party, but it's pretty clear that GOP bigwigs need to figure out a way to get dairy magnate Jim Oberweis -- a.k.a. "The Milk Dud" now known as "Jim 0-fer-four" to step aside for the November election. [Emphasis supplied] Read here

For starters, who are the state GOP bigwigs? Nationally, who are the bigwigs, in terms of controlling Illinois Republican politics and pols? Those are good questions. Or, as the lawyers might object, those questions assume facts not in existence.

National Republican Committeeman from Illinois Bob Kjellander("KJ")? Would he be the kind of bigwig Zorn has in mind? When KJ is not busy worrying about whether his apparent designation as individual K in a federal public corruption plea complaint has implications for his own possible problems with the Feds, Kjellander is hoping nobody will complain too much if he stays involved in helping to plan the National Republican Party convention later this year in Minneapolis. That kind of title-- Republican social planner, at large, for the wealthy-- might keep KJ rolling in dough in his occupation as Illinois Combine lobbyist and deal closer. But he is not the kind of bigwig who should be determining our congresspeople. Ask Zorn’s colleague, Tribune columnist John Kass.

State GOP chairman Andy McKenna, Jr.? Why would he have any control over anything? The state GOP did little, if anything, to assist Oberweis in the March 8, 2008. special election. McKenna has nothing to withhold. No resources (at least none that he wants to give to candidates not under his thumb) , no ideas, no victories of his own, nada. When McKenna ran in the U. S. Senate Republican Primary in 2004, Oberweis came in second to Jack Ryan and McKenna came in fourth in a seven-candidate field. McKenna garnered 14%, spending 4.5 million dollars in the effort (including 2.5 million dollars of his own).

The NRCC donated 1.2 million to the Obeweis effort for the special election because they knew a loss would be spun by the mainstream media as another leading indicator of things to come in the fall across the entire Congress. But, come fall, the NRCC, with fewer resources than the DCCC, will be focusing on protecting its incumbents, and Oberweis certainly isn’t one of them. So, either way, Oberweis can expect little or nothing from the NRCC and the national Republican bigwigs, if there are any residing in Illinois.

State Minority House Leader Tom Cross? Is he a Zorn bigwig? Tom has done virtually nothing to expand his numbers in the House in his five years, or so, on the job. Cross help elect Oberweis? Cross could put pressure on Oberweis. That’s a laugh.

Downstate Senate minority leader Frank Watson? Watson lost five seats in 2006, spending ten days in Italy a month before the election. What kind of pressure could he put on Oberweis to resign his nomination? Zero.

Jim Edgar, an influential big wig? Edgar last won a race in 1994. Other than WTTW, one of Chicago’s public TV stations, nobody would consider Edgar a bigwig anymore.

Judy Baar Topinka, who lost for Governor to Rod Blagojevich, 49 to 40, in 2006 in an idealess campaign that was under funded and underperformed by Topinka, is perhaps the media's favorite pretend Republican bigwig. Now she seems to fill up her life and guest panels by making fairly regular visits to WTTW’s Chicago Tonight and Bruce Dupont’s Beyond the Beltway. Yet, Topinka has nobody, outside the MSM, calling her a bigwig and rightly so.

Even If Zorn could somehow convince Oberweis the above were bigwigs, why would Oberweis listen to them? None of the above has anything to withhold since none of them has anything to give. They bring little or no prestige, organization, message, status or resources to the table.

Having lost essentially a race that became a referendum on George Bush, with his opponent, Bill Foster, getting an assist from a bitter Republican Primary opponent, Senator Chris Lauzen and a bigger assist from the so called conservative Republican Chicago Tribune [See here], Oberweis is ready for Round two.

Bill Pascoe, the main honcho running the Oberweis campaign told this reporter last night when Pascoe was asked if Oberweis might withdraw from the race:

Oberweis intends to run and win. He is in it to win it.

Life can always change, but it doesn’t sound like Jim Oberweis is going to “cut and run.” No Jack Ryan is he. Jack always wondered if he had the right mettle for politics. That's not a concern for Oberweis.

Further, why should Oberweis quit the race? Oberweis won the right to run twice this year in the 14th CD. [Indeed, John Laesch, one of Foster's primary opponents, has called for a discovery recount, as he disputes whether Foster has the right to run in November, 2008.]

In his first 14th CD general election, Jim Oberweis lost by six points. Now, Team Oberweis will no doubt assess the results, figure out why they lost and set about trying to correct the deficiencies. If Foster had lost, he would do the same. The fact that Foster has not run for the Senate and Governor before and that Oberweis has run for those positions and lost really has little to do with the decision to run in November.

Does Zorn know whether Lauzen’s bitterness was a factor in Oberweis’ loss? Does Zorn know whether that can be modified or overcome? Does Zorn know whether the Tribune’s endorsement of Foster and subsequent bashing of Oberweis was a factor? Can the Tribune be persuaded to change its position? Will Foster’s voting record be as positive for Foster as Zorn suggests? Or, will it be as problematic for Foster as Dold suggested in the Tribune endorsement session? When Foster tries, again, to tie Oberweis to Bush, will Oberweis respond by tying himself to McCain? Can he do it? Will that work with independents?

We don’t know any of those answers. Not yet. That’s why we play the game, as Democratic Party strategist and Bill Foster direct mail and message guru Pete Giangreco reminds us, from time to time.

Zorn says, implicitly, one doesn’t have to play the game. Just follow Zorn's instincts and predictions.

Would Tom Cross, as Zorn suggests, be a good choice for the 14th CD Republicans? His economic conservative credentials? Talk to media pundit Dan Proft who has labeled Tom Cross Speaker Mike Madigan’s whip. His conservative national security credentials? No real evidence of that. His cultural conservative credentials? Not a chance. Indeed, the one thing that the Lauzen and Oberweis supporters would most likely agree on would be that Tom Cross should not represent the 14th CD. If you were going to try a candidate swap at this point, and if Oberweis agreed, two big ifs, a better fit than Cross for the 14th CD would be former State Senator Steve Rauschenberger (R-Elgin).

So, go ahead, Eric. Get the Republican bigwigs to pay a visit to Oberweis. Trundle out the heavy artillery. All the oldies but goodies: Edgar, Topinka and Kjellander. Maybe KJ has some of his $809, 000 Illinois Combine-Bear Stearns fee left to offer Jim to get out, assuming Tony Rezko's business partner has "paid KJ back." You see how sticky it gets, Eric, cleaning up after the bigwigs in the Illinois GOP.

When the oldies don’t work, trot out McKenna, Watson and Cross and they can document how each has improved shareholder value for the State GOP in the last three, four or five years, as the case may be. When they fail to make that case, then Zorn can argue on behalf of Cross how he would energize the 14th CD.

When that fails, trot out Pat Widder and Bruce Dold from the Tribune editorial page and they can argue how they are thrilled that Foster won because his ads were so responsible, truthful and fair; his readiness to debate Oberweis was so impressive and his transparency and responsibility were so overwhelming—unlike that bad guy, Jim Oberweis, the embodiment of evil who continues to have the audacity to run for office without the approval of the Chicago Tribune.

Last, Eric, get the Tribune to offer its 14th CD endorsement session on DVD. Most likely, Team Oberweis would buy them, distribute them to each 14th CD resident and let each voter make his own decision regarding Oberweis, Foster. and the Tribune endorsement. Now, that would be transparency.

Go ahead, Eric, make my day.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search,
can be reached at JBCG@aol.com. You may watch "Public Affairs," shows with Presidential Candidates Obama and McCain-- and many other pols, as well as tonight's show with State Rep. Hamos, last week's show with U. S. Senate Candidate Dr. Sauerberg, our show with Sen. Rauschenberger and our show with Crain's political columnist Greg Hinz at www.PublicAffairsTv.com
Recently posted shows on the Public Affairs Youtube page include, among others, our show with former Sen. Rauschenberger, assessing Barack Obama, last week's show in the Cities of Chicago and Aurora with Republican U.S. Senate nominee Dr. Steve Sauerberg, discussing his opponent--Senator Durbin-- and domestic, cultural and foreign policy issues, tonight's show in Chicage and Aurora featuring State Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston,IL), discussing Barack Obama, as well as various Illinois Budget issues (spending, mass transit, capital budget, education, gaming and taxes) and possible 2010 Illinois gubernatorial candidates and 2010 U. S. Senate candidates (assuming Obama moves up to President in 2008) , a discussion with State's Attorney for Cook County Republican nominee Tony Peraica; and Anita Alvarez, Chief Deputy to current State's Attorney for Cook County Dick Devine and now the Democratic nominee for State's Attorney of Cook County.