Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The ULC Republican Gov Candidate Forum: 5 guys who say they don’t want to raise your taxes and who want to run against Blago.Will Jim & Andy join in?

We’ll report further, perhaps, later in the day about this morning’s Union League Club of Chicago (“ULC”) forum with five of the six declared Republican Primary candidates for Governor, but for now suffice it to say that there were no major surprises before a packed crowd of about 220 paying members and non-members. The well-run program [thanks to David Kohn and Dick Barry] lasted about an hour, with questions/answers sandwiched between short opening and closing statements by each candidate.

Robling’s packaging of the questions.

The forum was moderated by Chris Robling [a PR/crisis management professional with some political experience of his own] in his usual, ULC workmanlike fashion. One new twist was that the ULC departed from its traditional policy of having questions asked directly by those in attendance, with Chris carrying a roving mike into the audience. Instead, the questions came to Chris either by email prior to the forum or were collected on note cards during the forum, and Robling seemed to do a nice job of consolidating multiple questions, quite fairly, into a single, unified question, albeit with several parts, that Chris read to the candidates.

The five Republican Gov candidates who showed up.

As Woody Allen famously said, 90% of life is showing up [the other 10%, if you partake of the Hollywood culture, apparently is going after your 18 year-old step-daughter]. Attending the ULC forum were retired, self declared, ten million dollar, or so, net worth thirty-nine year old entrepreneur Adam Andrzejewski; fifteen year, Bloomington state legislator/real estate businessman Bill Brady; fifteen year, DuPage County state senator and former Edgar Chief of Staff and Thompson staffer, attorney (Locke, Lord Bissell and Liddell) Kirk Dillard; thirty-seven year old campaign consultant, PR firm owner and media personality Dan Proft and DuPage County Board Chairman and attorney (Ice Miller) Bob Schillerstrom.

The no shows.

The most recent entrant into the Republican Gov Sweepstakes, former State GOP Chairman and Schwarz Paper Company President Andy McKenna, Jr. was a no show. Perhaps he is still working on fine tuning his media message for his anticipated, well publicized, heavy duty, TV ad buy. Jim Ryan, the former Illinois AG and 2002 Republican nominee for Governor, is apparently still mulling his entry into the race and, in any case, will be kept under wraps as long as possible. That was Jim Ryan’s media strategy in 2002 and although it was a loser then, his handlers still seem inclined to go with the same strategy.

The Candidates’ themes

Adam Andrzejewski went with his usual “every dime on line.” theme of making state government more transparent by putting all state expenditures on the web. Bill Brady went with “jobs through economic growth,” brought about by less burdensome taxes and regulation. For Dan Proft, it was clear, conservative, substantial reform of the big ticket items of Education, Transportation, Medicaid and State operations and Pensions, as well as “cutting,” the income tax rate and initiating statewide [for low income parents] school vouchers, charter schools, school choice programs. For Kirk Dillard, it is his bio—staffer with Jim Thompson, Chief of Staff to Edgar, works well with everybody and his legislative accomplishments, e.g., passing “Landmark Ethics reform.” [a phrase that drew a “How’s that [ethics reform] working out for you, Kirk” from Proft]. For Bob Schillerstrom, it was-- I know how to run a big county like DuPage-- so let me show you what I can do with Illinois.

They won’t raise the income tax or sales tax, or will they?

Each of the above-described, five candidates is saying, to the dismay of the MSM, “There is no need to raise the income or general sales tax rate,” but Kirk Dillard still won’t say he will rule out such a tax increase and only Proft wants to cut the state's individual and corporate income tax rate by 50%.

Running against Rod

Of course, each of the above wants to run against the alleged public corruption of impeached, arrested and indicted, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and other Democrats, but things may get sticky for some when the names of Bob Kjellander, Bill Cellini and Tony Rezko are brought up.

Of course, McKenna, Jr., if he does show up sometime, may not want to hear questions about John Kass’ Combine and Jim Ryan may not want to discuss Stu Levine, his long time friend of law school who was convicted of public corruption and is said to have contributed, over the years, more than 800 K to Jim Ryan's campaigns. {Jim Ryan, if he does enter the race, may add some "diversity," in terms of his views about raising the income tax rate in Illinois]/ But, more about those and other items, perhaps, in our later report.

The MSM's priorities

The one surprise of the morning was the absence of most of the MSM at the post-forum press availabilities with each of the Republican Gov candidates. I imagine Carol Marin, et al thought it was more important to see what Mayor Daley had to say about hizzhonor balancing the City of Chicago budget by cutting Venetian Night than questioning the Republican candidates for Governor about education quality, high taxes, too few jobs, public corruption, etc. After all, you have to prioritize in the media.

But the MSM’s loss was this reporter’s gain. It was kind of like one on one basketball with Berkowitz going up against each of the candidates, until ULC Public Affairs Director David Kohn lost his patience with the pick up basketball game, again and again—saying, okay, next candidate. AP's Deanna Bellandi also participated in the questioning.

Most of the candidates have a height advantage over Berkowitz, but they went easy on him, and perhaps some non-MSM member will post the festivities on the web. Again, a more detailed, substantive report to follow.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at *************************************************************
More than 112 of our shows from the last two years are posted on the Public Affairs YouTube page . Recent shows include as featured guests Republican Primary Gov candidate State Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), 10th CD Republican Primary candidate Bill Cadigan (R-Winnetka) and 14th CD Republican Primary candidate State Sen. Randy Hultgren (R-Winfield)