Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gov. Edgar endorses Senator Dillard for Governor: Did Edgar make the case?

Edgar’s endorsement of Sen. Dillard for Governor

Former Governor Jim Edgar, who mentored Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Westmont) when Dillard was Edgar’s Chief of Staff for three years in the early 1990s, endorsed Dillard yesterday for Governor. Has Gov. Edgar, the last Illinois Governor not to be indicted, continued to mentor Senator Dillard over the last 15 years, or so? It seems so.

Edgar and Dillard held joint press conferences yesterday morning in Springfield and yesterday afternoon in Chicago. The endorsement might mean a fair amount for two reasons:

First, Jim Edgar was said to leave office in 1998 with approval ratings in the 70s and political pundits speak of him as a man who is still widely remembered and admired around the State of Illinois, and especially downstate—and downstate accounts for 40 to 45 % of the Republican primary vote.

Second, Jim Edgar speaks of Senator Dillard from personal experience with him, making the endorsement potentially more persuasive, especially if Gov. Edgar will do a lot of personal appearances with Dillard.

Did Dillard endorse Obama?

ABC-7 News Political Editor Charles Thomas said at the presser that Adam Andrzejewski, one of five competitors of Dillard for the Republican Primary nomination for Governor, told Thomas that the Republican base-- the Republican right, said Thomas-- will never forgive Dillard for endorsing Obama in the 2008 Iowa primary. What does Dillard think about that, asked Thomas?

Dillard gave a stout defense of his relationship with Barack Obama. He said he had done a five second appearance in the TV ad about his work on ethics in the Illinois state legislature with Obama. Dillard thought this was appropriate because a Democrat, Obama, “had stepped up with Dillard on a Republican principle like ethics,” and that ad was designated for the Democratic primary and it was clear Dillard fully supported John McCain for President.

Edgar jumped into the discussion, saying, “I don’t think all of the Republican Party is to the far right," with the implication that that is the only segment of the Party who would be troubled by the appearance of Dillard in an Obama promo.

Edgar argued further he was pulling for Obama over Hillary Clinton in the primary. Edgar took a little pride in Obama being the Democratic nominee because “he is from Illinois,” and “Edgar voted for John McCain in the General,” but in the primary, that was a different thing. [Presumably, Edgar meant he voted for McCain in the Primary but that he was "pulling," for Obama over Clinton].

Dillard’s crossover appeal

Governor Edgar argued that to be successful, politically, in Illinois you have to appeal to more than just your party. He said that underscores “Dillard’s ability to reach across and pick up some Democrats on issues that are important to Republicans,” and put together a winning coalition and “that’s the type of leadership we need.”

Is Dillard looking in the rearview mirror?

As to whether Dillard is focusing on the past with Edgar’s endorsement, Edgar said the only question is: "Did things work yesterday and if they did maybe they might work tomorrow because what we’re doing today is surely not working."

Did Governor Edgar raise taxes?

Governor Edgar defended his actions in 1991, saying he didn’t raise taxes, he just made the temporary income tax permanent. So, Gov. Edgar argued, by making the income tax change permanent, they “just didn’t make the hole any deeper.”

Can Senator Dillard be Governor No?

Edgar said that they cut spending considerably in the first few years he was Governor and they laid people off because “we just couldn’t afford it.”

Edgar said, for 2011, “[We] need someone who can cut spending and say no, and I know Kirk got a lot of experience listening to me say no a lot because that’s all I did for the first few years,” as a Governor.

Did Gov. Edgar make calls for Gov. Quinn?

Edgar was “sympathetic to Quinn’s delimma earlier this year trying to put together a budget that balanced,” but “he did not call Republicans and say they should vote for a tax increase," as reported in the media. Instead, Gov.Edgar said he told Gov. Quinn “You need to talk to the Republican leaders and when I called some Republicans to see what they thought, they said the same thing I did.” Some Republicans told Edgar that Gov. Quinn should “talk to Tom Cross, there might be some help there,” and Edgar passed that on to Gov. Quinn, but he doesn't know if Quinn ever followed up with Cross.

Does Gov. Edgar unequivocally oppose an income or sales tax increase?

When asked by this reporter if he would unequivocally oppose an increase in the income or sales tax now, Gov. Edgar said “anyone who would say that “is being irresponsible or they just don’t understand.” Gov Edgar emphasized, “you have to get behind the desk and look at the books," before you say what you will do.

Gov Edgar said, “The first solution has got to be cuts and also a willingness to say no.” You might at some point have to look at tax increases, but if you look at ‘raising taxes” first thing, there aren’t going to be any cuts…and if you come to that point, you might have to consider that. So, said Edgar, “It wouild be a mistake to say categorically, absolutely no [to a tax increase down the road].

Does Senator Dillard unequivocally oppose an income or sales tax increase?

As to whether he agrees with the above, Senator Dillard said, “you go through the budget and make a lot of tough decisions, make a lot of cuts and you re-prioritize state expenditures…. You have private sector individuals help you go thru that budget and you grow the economy.”

Dillard wouldn’t unequivocally rule out an income tax increase if he becomes Governor. He said, “I think you have to keep every option open but I think there are other options than looking at tax increases.”

Does Dillard think of himself as a conservative or moderate?

When this reporter asked Senator Dillard if he was a conservative or a moderate, Dillard said, “Obviously I am a fiscal conservative and I think on social issues, it depends on the issue but I am a conservative, Jeff. You know I have supported Pro-Life causes and I am a supporter of the 2nd Amendment.”

What is Dillard running on?

Dillard said he is running on his unique experience: (1) under Edgar, as his Chief of Staff; (2) as a state senator, Dillard said he led on ethics; and (3) he has strong downstate roots. Senator Dillard argued, “We need transformational leadership,” and he said he would give the state that. Dillard said he would be a “Good bridge to the future.”

Stu Levine and Jim Ryan

Asked by this reporter if Jim Ryan’s prior relationship with Stu Levine would be an issue if Jim gets in the race, Senator Dillard said he would let others decide that.

Too many Gubernatorial candidates from DuPage?

When this reporter asked if three people from DuPage County (Jim Ryan, Schillerstrom and Dillard) split up the DuPage vote too much for any of them to win the Primary, Dillard argued he is a statewide candidate and that he thinks he runs strongly in every area, geographically, in the state of Illinois. Dillard said he is not a regional candidate. And, that essentially was Senator Kirk Dillard’s closing argument as that was the last answer to the last question at yesterday’s press conference.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at JBCG@aol.com. *************************************************************
More than 112 of our shows from the last two years are posted on the Public Affairs YouTube page , and the show with 10th CD Republican Primary candidate Cadigan will soon be streaming from this YouTube page. *********************************************************************