Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Crain's Greg Hinz omits the Andy McKenna, Jr.State GOP chairmanship/performance issue from his Report on the Illinois Republican Party

Greg Hinz of Crain’s, not exactly known as Mr. Republican, says Illinois needs a Republican Party that works, and yes, Virginia, Hinz, the MSM journalist, is here to help bring that about. Of course, that is a bit like when the Government shows up at your doorstep and says it is, “here to help.” Of course, your immediate instinct is to grab for your wallet and head out the back door. Republicans may greet the offer from Hinz the same way.

For starters, Hinz talked to some Republicans, leaders and otherwise, and purported to report their thoughts about what is needed to resurrect the state GOP.

State GOP Chairman McKenna’s status: Time to Go?

The problem with Mr. Hinz’s advice column is that he left out the eight hundred pound gorilla, the status of State GOP Chairman Andy McKenna, Jr. And, we know at least one of the Republican leaders he spoke to has spoken out on that issue- to Hinz and others. Moreover, that issue was the lead by Greg Hinz when he initiated his conversation with Chris Robling, telling Chris, “Boy, the staff at the State GOP are not happy with you.” Why is that, asked Robling. “Because you are always calling for Andy McKenna to resign.”

Indeed, Robling sent a letter to McKenna this past summer, asking him to step down as State GOP Chairman. Chicago Tonight moderator Carol Marin noted that letter’s request as a predicate to one of her questions to Robling when he was on Chicago Tonight recently. Then, on November 9, 2008, Robling, taping “Public Affairs,” again called for McKenna to step down, stating McKenna was a wonderful person, on a personal level, but that he “is ineffective,” as State GOP Chairman.

State GOP and Roskam/Kirk wins

Robling told this reporter that he did note to Hinz that Cong. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton, 6th CD) and Cong. Mark Kirk (R-Highland Park, 10th CD) did receive significant help from the State GOP in their 2008 re-election wins and that credit was due McKenna for that, but that Robling advised Hinz that he "still thought that McKenna had been a bad State GOP Chairman and that Robling still thought McKenna should step down.” Indeed, Robling, trying to be sort of a nice guy, noted that McKenna, if he gave up the State GOP chairmanship now, could leave office on kind of an “upbeat note,” in light of the Mark Kirk win in the 10th CD.

Incomplete reporting by Hinz of Robling’s comments

The Hinz perspective, as told to this reporter by Hinz, was that Robling was “downplaying,” his previous call for McKenna to resign. Perhaps, but it sure didn’t seem that way to this reporter. Objectively, think about it. Robling, in at least three public instances, from June to November, 2008, calls for McKenna to step down. Hinz completely omits any mention of that from his column. Instead, Hinz virtually leads his column with “the big election win,” in the 10th CD “under the leadership of Chairman Andy McKenna, Jr.” That is done because Hinz perceives Robling as “downplaying,” his three prior calls for McKenna to step down as Chairman? This reporter would have thought that Hinz would have at least noted the Robling “shift,” in position.

Presumably, Hinz knows that Kirk and McKenna have had a virtual political love affair for at least the last decade, with McKenna chairing Kirk’s Finance Committee early on in his 10th CD campaign. So, it isn’t surprising that both of those guys are going to whisper sweet things to the media to help each other, and indeed are going to do things to help each other. In short, Hinz has to discount a fair amount what he is hearing from Team Kirk and Team McKenna about each other.

More importantly, to use the Kirk-McKenna relationship and mutual assistance program and Kirk’s win of two weeks ago in the 10th CD as a rationale to omit any discussion of calls by Robling for McKenna to step down is indefensible.

Ibendahl/Rauschenberger and McKenna

Further, Hinz cites to Doug Ibendahl, who has been working with and for Jack Roeser during at least the last few years. Ibendahl has been calling, during that time interval, in a variety of contexts for McKenna to depart his leadership position at the GOP. Still, not a mention of that from Hinz in his column. Did Hinz even ask Ibendahl what he thought of Chairman McKenna. Talking about that, did Hinz even ask Rauschenberger what he thought of McKenna as the State GOP chairman. Rauschenberger did not speak, on “Public Affairs,” in the last few years about McKenna in glowing terms as the State GOP chairman:

Jeff Berkowitz:… So, what do you do with a CEO when he presides over a decrease in the capitalization of a company?

Steve Rauschenberger: Well, just keep in mind that this [State GOP] CEO wasn’t around when they made all the bad mortgage loans but he also has not instilled new confidence. You know, I think that—

Jeff Berkowitz: Time for Andy McKenna to go?

Steve Rauschenberger: I think it is time for a lot of the leaders of the Republican Party to decide to lead or get out of the way.

Jeff Berkowitz: Should he [McKenna] go? Should he go?

[Former State Senator] Steve Rauschenberger: I don’t know. I don’t know.
[From the Public Affairs blog report of the Public Affairs TV show, February 25, 2008].

MacDougal and McKenna

Moreover, from Gary MacDougal, all Hinz can find on this matter is that “having a full-time state chair wouldn’t hurt either.” It is hard to imagine that Hinz could spend more than ten seconds with MacDougal and not have him chuckle about the mistake he made as State GOP chairman, i.e., to leave the country and give the so-called Republican leaders a chance to stab him in the back, shortly after Jim Ryan lost to Blagojevich for Governor in 2002. The people who hang with and have bucked up McKenna, Jr. are said to be the same or similar to the ilk who knocked MacDougal out of the State GOP Chairmanship in 2002, after he had held that spot for about nine months. This reporter hasn’t talked to MacDougal lately, but it is hard to believe, if asked, Hinz would have gotten from MacDougal an enthusiastic plea to keep McKenna as State GOP chairman:

Jeff Berkowitz: …Where is the Republican Party in Illinois and elsewhere to present …[issues] in the way that you are?

Gary MacDougal: Missing in action. I like Andy McKenna [State GOP Chairman for more than the last two years] but he has a full time job other than this. He is a very quiet fellow who is very thoughtful but not an attack dog and we need an attack dog out there.

From the Public Affairs blog report of the Public Affairs TV show, March 25, 2007

The State GOP as a troubled Company w/ a non-performing Chairman

In short, McKenna took over a “troubled company,” the State GOP, about four years ago. Since he became the Chairman of the Board and CEO, the Company’s losses have continued to mount and market share has continued to decline. There seems to be no signs of a turn-around. No new products in the pipeline. No new managers. No new executives. No new intellectual property. No plan.

A weekly business magazine sends out one of its best journalists to interview the key shareholders of the troubled company. One significant shareholder has called publicly for the Chairman and CEO to step down, saying the Chairman and CEO, in light of the public record of sharp losses and declines in market share and no new personnel or products, is completely ineffective. The journalist ignores those comments in his article and does not report on comments of any other shareholders about the Chairman’s performance?

The journalist files his report with no mention of whether the Chairman’s job is on the line. Further, the journalist leads with the fact one product, representing about 2% of the Company’s revenue, has stabilized its market share, under the “Chairman’s leadership.”

The magazine’s editors read the report and say, “great job.” This reporter knows one person who would love that report: The Company’s Chairman and CEO.

Lance Trover, the State GOP’s Communications Director (who previously worked as a staffer in the communications area on the losing 2006 campaign of Judy Baar Topinka for Governor), did not respond to an email and phone call requesting his comments on this report.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at JBCG@aol.com. *************************************************************
"Public Affairs," is a weekly political interview show airing in Chicago on CANTV, in the Chicago metro area, Aurora and Rockford on Comcast and also often on the Illinois Channel. You can watch the shows, including archived shows going back to 2005, here.
Recently posted shows on the Public Affairs YouTube page include shows with pundit and PR expert Chris Robling , Illinois Policy Institute Chairman and CEO John Tillman., Senator Rutherford , former Republican Primary candidate for Governor Ron Gidwitz, a show with Cong. Don Manzullo (R-Egan, 16th CD) about his no vote on the bailout, jobs, trade and other issues, and shows with Cook County Cmsr. and Obama Media Team Member Forrest Claypool and much more.