Friday, April 04, 2008

Will Sen. Dillard follow Rep. Froehlich out of the Illinois Republican Party?

Links added for Senators Watson and Dillard, as well as for Rep. Froehlich and Capitolfax, and text slightly revised at 2:15 pm on Friday.
Senator Dillard (R-Westmont) is a former Chief of Staff to eight year former Governor Jim Edgar and a former Director of Legislative Affairs for fourteen year former Governor Jim Thompson. He is also former Chairman of the DuPage County Republican Party. Indeed, his Republican lineage can be traced to President Lincoln (see, below).

A few years ago, Senator Dillard was said to be characterized by one of his Republican colleagues as knifing the loyal Republican Senators in the back when he, along with a few other Republican senators, split with the Republican senate caucus and supported Blagojevich’s ten billion dollar pension bond scheme. See here. Indeed, former Senator Pat O’Malley fingered Bob Kjellander, so to speak, as securing the votes of Republicans Dave Sullivan and Kirk Dillard, way back then for Blagojevich. See here.

Now, Senator Dillard is butting heads with Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson (R-Greenville) over Dillard’s decision to support the RTA regional sales tax increase.

Is Dillard thinking about striking a better deal with Senate President Jones (D-Chicago)? Could Senator Dillard become a democrat with a Capital D? Take a listen.
Jeff Berkowitz: Rich Miller's Capitolfax is reporting you’ve got a bit of a skirmish going on with Frank Watson, the Senate minority Leader. [See subscriber portion of the Capitolfax blog or Capitolfax, itself, for March 12, 2008].

Dillard miffed at Watson for a promise not kept

Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Westmont): I like Frank and he and I have been friends for a long time. But, I was clearly under the impression that I would be given the next real leadership spot and that is why I took the unpaid and unofficial Republican whip spot. So, I was disappointed that I was passed over for a leadership spot in the State Senate, especially when I didn’t want to take the whip spot to begin with.

Jeff Berkowitz: Do you think that was punishment for your recent vote in support of the regional transit tax

Was Dillard punished for his RTA tax increase vote?

Senator Kirk Dillard: There’s no doubt that my vote for the RTA played a large factor in Senator Watson’s decision to pick another downstater for his leadership team. But, I am sent to Springfield by the people of Naperville and the western suburbs, who strongly were in favor of the RTA package, as was my County Board Chairman, Bob Schillerstrom. So, my constituents in my District come first, with all due respect to Senate Leader Watson.

Jeff Berkowitz: Do you think Senator Watson’s point was if you want to be in Leadership you’ve got to go with Leadership on important bills and not break from the Republican Party. And, on that one, it was not just you. It was Senator Millner and Senator Cronin, who also supported that.

Senator Kirk Dillard: The Republican Chairman of the State’s most important Republican County, DuPage, and my County Board Chairman, Bob Schillerstom, both strongly wanted me to vote for the RTA package and they put together the package, not me. But, in the end, I vote my District-- not how the [Republican] Leader of the State Senate orders me to vote.

Jeff Berkowitz: So, that was Senator Cronin that you referred to? The DuPage county Chairman?

Senator Kirk Dillard: Right.

Jeff Berkowitz: …Looking forward, now, he’s offered you-- Senator Watson has offered you-- another position and you’ve said you’re going to think about it?

Dillard: whipped by Watson?

Senator Kirk Dillard: No, Senator Watson has told me he wants [me] to stay as the minority whip, which is a made-up, unofficial, leadership position and I want to take the next couple of weeks to think about it but I am upset because my wife and I were promised—my wife being one who did not want me to take the unofficial whip spot because of the time and fundraising requirements that it brings—but I want to think about things over the Spring break, which begins now [on March 14, 2008] and determine whether I want to stay in the Whip spot or not. [Berkowitz called Senator Dillard on April 2, 2008 to inquire as to what his decision was on the Whip position but Dillard did not return the call].

Jeff Berkowitz: So, your wife was quoted on her position because in a sense she gave up her time with you for that position? Is that why she was involved in this?

Senator Kirk Dillard: The whip spot requires me to go to Springfield early and sit in on additional meetings so there are time requirements but there are also fundraising requirements that come with that position even though it is unofficial and unpaid. [pause]. My wife wants me to spend as much time with our children as possible.

Could Dillard jump ship and join the Dems?

Jeff Berkowitz: So, could this division between you and Senator Watson get to the point where you might think of changing parties? There are some people who are saying that.

Senator Kirk Dillard: No.

Jeff Berkowitz: Is there anything to that?

Senator Kirk Dillard: No, even if I step down as the whip, I will certainly help Senator Watson and the senate Republican caucus do whatever it needs me to do to try to take back some seats from the Democrats. You know—

Jeff Berkowitz: Are there any circumstances, at all, in which you could foresee changing parties and becoming a Democrat?

The Dillard Republican Family Tradition

Senator Kirk Dillard: No, my family’s great-great grandfather nominated Lincoln for the Presidency, and our great-great grandfather, Governor Oglesby brought him back on the funereal train and built his tomb. There is no way that I would ever, ever switch parties, especially since I believe in the principles of the Republican Party.
Senator Kirk Dillard, interviewed before Senator John McCain’s fundraiser, March 14, 2008, Hilton Hotel, Chicago Loop.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search,
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