Saturday, September 05, 2009

Yesterday’s Conservative Summit winners: Andrzejewski, Murphy and Proft, the IL GOP youth movement.

Supplemented, revised, typos corrected and links added on Saturday night at 8:00 pm
Senator Dillard: I just gave you my Republican credentials as ...the Republican Chairman of this place [DuPage County]... My wife’s Great, Great grandfather nominated Abraham Lincoln for the Presidency, was the eulogizer at his funeral and buried him. So, I think I’m a pretty good Republican. Thank you.

Cisco Cotto: And, then [your wife’s Great, Great grandfather] went and gave a speech for [Stephen] Douglas, right? But, it was in the Primary. [LOL from the crowd].
It wasn’t so long ago that we said “you can’t trust anyone over 40.” Even before we get to the Democrats’ problems in 2010...the youth movement represented by ... Republican Guv candidates forty and under may be a dominant factor in 2010. Predicting turning points is always tricky, but the Republican Party in Illinois may have finally started its turnaround...
As reported here, Adam [or as Carol Marin referred to him this week on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, “Andrew Andrewefski”] Andrzejewski won the straw poll after yesterday’s Republican gubernatorial primary lunch forum /Conservative Summit at Carlucci’s Restaurant in Downer’s Grove. The event was sponsored by the United Republican Fund and moderated by WIND 560 AM Radio’s Cisco Cotto. The format and some highlights [fairly accurate, except for the report on Senator Dillard’s defense of his Obama campaign spot—See, below] of the Summit are discussed by Tom Swiss here.

For a much more detailed discussion of the positions stated by the candidates at yesterday's Conservative Summit, please go here.

Straw Poll winners

The significance of the straw poll is unclear as it may simply reflect the pre and post-forum preferences of those present, which is not a random sample of the conservatives across the State. On the other hand, based on the 2002 and 2006 Republican gubernatorial primaries, social conservatives probably make up about half of the Republican primary electorate and conservatives, as more broadly defined, may comprise up to two thirds of the Republican primary electorate. Moreover, activists, such as those attending yesterday’s forum, can have a disproportionate impact on the Primary and their preferences should be weighted accordingly.

This journalist sought some comments about the Summit last night from the participants. Team Brady and Team Schillerstrom did not return this reporter’s calls. Team Dillard has not been responsive of late, so we didn’t try there. Team Murphy is hard to locate, so we ignored him. And, we ran out of time to contact Team Andrzejewski. [Subsequent to the initial preparation of this post, Team Schillerstrom and this journalist have exchanged voice mail messages, but we have not yet been able to obtain Schillerstrom's comments about the Summit and straw poll.

The Proft-Obama comparison

That left us with Dan Proft, who did, as almost always, return this reporter’s phone call. Proft would not like the comparison, but early on in his U. S. Senate Democratic Primary candidate, Barack Obama was notable for being a candidate that this journalist and perhaps others could reach directly, unfiltered by handlers, and who also was pretty good about getting back promptly to reporters.

Further, the then State Senator was “a less guarded Barack Obama,” as the New York Times put it. Reporters love that direct contact with pols. Another striking similarity between Proft and Obama, relative to their competitors, was and is their broad based knowledge of and fluency with the issues.

The Andrzejewski-Murphy-Proft top tier

Proft said last night that with the vote weighted as it was [3 points for the voters first preference, 2 points for the second and 1 point for third; voters were told they must vote for a 1st, 2nd and 3rd, or their ballot would not count; if you total up the points for the six candidates, it appears there were only 78 valid ballots cast, although Fran Eaton reported 100 in attendance], he would not “read much into,” whether the candidate finished first, second or third, but “would read more into the grouping on the top,” of those who are relative newcomers to seeking office versus those who have been in office some time.

Proft said the problem with those guys that have been in Springfield for a long time, like Brady and Dillard, is they have a real tough question to answer, which is, “you’ve been in Springfield for 15 years, how is that working out for us.” So, even if they have put up a good fight, “Do the results seem to indicate that they don’t have the punching power for the fight before us.” So, Proft argues that Brady and Dillard’s performance over the last 15 years is responsible for some of the lethargy associated with those two candidacies.

Further, although some of the Pro-Life group’s may favor Senator Dillard over those without any voting record because he has “taken votes” in support of their cause, there is this criticism of Dillard from strong pro-lifer Jill Stanek.

Schillerstrom may argue his decade as DuPage County Board Chairman has been more successful than Dillard’s and Brady’s experience in the State Senate, but it is not clear that voters will become convinced that Schillerstrom’s county government experience is transferable to state issues. DuPage County may have a million residents, but that’s not thirteen million. Further, DuPage County doesn’t do anything comparable to what the State does in the big-ticket areas of education, transportation, healthcare and state operations. Also, Schillerstrom’s proposal “to get everybody in a room,” to discuss education is not really a new idea, nor one likely to appeal to conservatives. It is hard to see Schillerstrom capturing the imagination of the Republican base.

The conservative activists at Carlucci’s Restaurant

When asked how representative those at the Summit were of the conservative movement, Proft said, “there were a lot of people that I recognize… as good representatives of the conservative movement; people whose bona fides in terms of being conservatives who have tried to advance conservative ideas and principles are without question. But, it certainly wasn’t exhaustive either. There were a lot of folks in there who came to the table loosely affiliated with one campaign or another. But, that is how it’s going to be in any room. So, for me, there’s no sour grapes. It was what it was…and I think it was a productive day and productive event that URF did…. I am pleased with the outcome of where I am positioned…I think we probably need to do more events like that where you have a lot of conservative leaders and conservative rank and file that didn’t have a chance to attend this…

When asked for the names of the people in the room who Proft recognized as credible conservatives, Proft said “there was a ton: Steve Rauschenberger [URF President], Senator Chris Lauzen (Aurora)…who is supporting Kirk Dillard, but is he a credible conservative, sure he is; Dave Smith and Kathy Valente from Illinois Family Institute; Peter Lebarbera, I’m trying to kind of go through, in my head, now, who was there-- Dean Dalgren from Schaumberg Township, Ralph Seife, Dan Patlak-- Wheeling Township Assessor and Cook County Board of Review Primary candidate.”

Proft noted some of the other candidates in the room--”Dave Winters, State Rep. from Rockford [and Lt.Gov. Primary candidate]; Jason Plummer who is from Metro East, Terri Koyne-Macoupin County, Irene Napier [IL Federation for Right to Life]- a long time Pro-Life Champion; Eloise Gerson- 42nd Ward Committeeman; Tom Swiss- former Executive Director of the Cook County GOP; Lee Newcom, long time staunch principled conservative and McLean County Recorder of Deeds; obviously Dennis LaComb [Executive Director of the URF] and Fran Eaton [Consultant to the URF, who put the event on]; Eric Wallace- U. S. Senate Primary Candidate, Pat Hughes- U. S. Senate Primary Candidate.”

Dan Proft said, “I am sure I am missing a bunch of folks as I try to recreate the list of who was in the audience, but I rattled off a dozen right there without trying very hard, so there were all kinds of credible conservatives there, which is why I don’t quibble with the outcome… and I think it was a sharp event that they put on.”

Some notables missed by Proft who attended the Conservative Summit were URF Director Jim Oberweis, Cong. Peter Roskam, Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross, Republican National Committeeman and State GOP Chairman Pat Brady and Republican National Committeewoman Demetra Demonte. Although, Leader Cross would probably not be considered to be a “movement conservative,” by Proft and others.

The Dillard-Cotto drama

Presidential Candidate Obama, despite his soaring campaign rhetoric, was known as “No drama Obama,” for his steady, consistent, disciplined campaign. President Obama’s friend, Senator Dillard, on the other hand, can often be counted on, to provide some catchy lines, as well as some drama. Yesterday was no different. For both humor and drama, take a listen to what was, at times, a sharp exchange with the mostly neutral moderator, Cisco Cotto.
WIND’s Cisco Cotto asked Senator Dillard the question that he said another candidate had come up with for Dillard: “You endorsed Barack Obama for President and even appeared in a campaign commercial for him, at the very least are you willing to say you regret that endorsement and campaign ad-- and why should Republicans, whether they are moderate or conservative, believe you are truly on their side.” Dillard, as is his style, pushed back:

Did Senator Dillard endorse Presidential Candidate Obama?

Senator Dillard: Well, obviously I didn’t endorse Barack Obama for President, so the question is not factually correct, right off the bat.

Cisco Cotto: Were you in a campaign commercial for him?

Senator Dillard: I was in a campaign commercial for him for five seconds, twenty-one words, limited to a Democratic Primary.

Cisco Cotto: If you are going to challenge me on this now… can you honestly say, as a Republican, if you appear in a campaign commercial for a Democrat, that that’s not an endorsement?

Why Dillard vouched for Obama

Senator Dillard: That ad was about ethics. Barack Obama and I sponsored the first campaign finance reforms in more than twenty-five years. [Democratic Primary presidential candidate Obama] called me from Iowa and he said, “Kirk, I took a lot of heat- from Emil Jones, from Vince Demuzio, the late head of the Democratic Party, the former State Senator from Carlinville.” Obama further said, “I took a lot of heat and I need you to vouch that I took heat—that I co-sponsored with you an ethics reform proposal.” [Watch Dillard discuss his decision to appear in an Obama ad, about four minutes into the tape]

Senator Dillard: And, Cisco, anytime a Democrat stands with me- takes heat from their own Party on a Republican principle, a Republican principle like ethics—I’m sorry, I’m going to try to help them, with limits. Limited to a Democratic Primary. [I said to] Barack, I’m all for John McCain. I’m going to raise money for John McCain, which I did. I support John McCain. It’s not an endorsement, Barack, you understand that. He understood that. And, most importantly, I finished second, statewide, as a delegate in terms of votes. As a Republican delegate to the Minneapolis convention of the Republican Party for John McCain.

Dillard’s Republican Credentials

Senator Dillard: I just gave you my Republican credentials as the Chairman, the Republican Chairman of this place [DuPage County]. When I was Jim Edgar’s Chief of Staff, we elected every Constitutional officer in 1994 to the Republican Party and we took back control of the Illinois House [for two years]. My wife’s Great, Great grandfather nominated Abraham Lincoln for the Presidency, was the eulogizer at his funeral and buried him. So, I think I’m a pretty good Republican. Thank you.

Cotto takes a shot at Dillard

Cisco Cotto: And, then [your wife’s Great, Great grandfather] went and gave a speech for [Stephen] Douglas, right? But, it was in the Primary. [LOL from the crowd].
Dillard, Brady and Schillerstrom, a look in the rear view mirror?

We may come back and provide more of an analysis of the substantive responses of the Republican Primary gubernatorial candidates to the URF’s questions, as asked by Cisco Cotto. But, for now, it appears that conservatives are looking for change, i.e., new faces and new ideas for 2010. That puts Senators Dillard and Brady, and Chairman Schillerstrom with their forty years of combined electoral experience at a disadvantage. Perhaps not unlike the Clinton-Obama experience/change choice in the 2008 Democratic Presidential primary. and we know how that came out.

Proft’s new model

Dan Proft argues with some success that these folks have had their shot and they have come up short. Why should voters give them yet another chance? Proft says the state needs a major correction and revamping of the big-ticket systems of education, healthcare, state government operations and transportation. Not tinkering around the margins, but radical reform of how services are provided and not higher, but lower, tax rates and eventually a consumption tax that replaces a tax on work and savings.[Watch and read about Proft and his new ideas here]

Murphy’s new model

Senator Murphy argues unlike Schillerstrom, Brady and Dillard, he never met George Ryan and unlike Proft and Andrzejewski, he has shown he knows how to run a successful campaign and get elected to public office. Further, he has experience speaking out for change and taking charge on issues, as he did as minority spokesman for the Senate Committee on reducing the budget deficit.[Watch and read about a potential Murphy-Quinn matchup]

Adam’s new model

Adam Andrzejewski is a fresh new face, getting more and more polished by the day.[Watch the less polished Adam of a few months ago]. He is learning how to hit all the right notes for the movement conservatives and to integrate their themes into his slogan, “every dime on line.” Unlike Proft and Murphy, he has demonstrated he can meet a big time payroll and has a net worth of ten to fifteen million dollars, which means he can bankroll a significant primary campaign, even if he doesn’t raise any money from others. And, if he does, his campaign becomes even stronger.

You can’t trust anyone over 40

Finally, Proft, Murphy and Andrzejewski have youth, energy and physical appearance on their side. Increasingly, political campaigns are TV campaigns and as we all know, TV is a visual medium. This gives an advantage to these young Republicans over the Democratic Primary Guv candidates: 50ish Quinn and the 40ish Hynes, who may look old for his years.

It wasn’t so long ago that we said “you can’t trust anyone over 40.” Even before we get to the Democrats’ problem in 2010 with the hangover from the Blagojevich corruption, the tax increases promoted by Quinn and Hynes and the advantages of new ideas being developed, put forth and marketed by Proft, Murphy and Andrzewejski, the youth movement represented by that triad, composed of Guv candidates forty and under, may be a dominant factor in 2010. Predicting turning points is always tricky, but the Republican Party in Illinois may have finally started its turnaround. If it happens, you heard it first here.

Perhaps this was the subliminal message at Carlucci’s Restaurant yesterday. Perhaps it captivated the movement conservatives. Yet, earlier this week, Chicago Tonight panelist Laura Washington observed, “No stars were emerging,” in the Republican Primary for Governor and none of the other panelists disagreed. Now, the question is: When will Chicago Tonight and the rest of the MSM take note of what is going in the race for Governor, on the Republican side? The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind, as in WIND 560 AM Radio, that is. Ask Cisco.
More than 100 of our shows from the last two years are posted on the Public Affairs YouTube page , including very recent shows with 7th CD Democratic Primary candidates State Rep. Collins, State Rep. Ford and Chief Deputy Recorder of Deeds Williams-Burnett; 10th CD Dem. Primary Candidate State Rep. Hamos; and Republican Gubernatorial Primary Candidate Dan Proft.