It may not yet be resolved 100% as to who the Republican nominee for Governor is, but the Illinois Republican Party came out of Tuesday's election in very, very good shape, no matter who the standard bearer is for Governor. [BTW, as of Wednesday evening, it appears that Sen. Bill Brady is up by 400 votes, or so, in the Republican Gubernatorial Primary with little, if anything left to count, except for the absentee ballots and provisional ballots; the smart money says those remaining ballots to count will not be enough to change the outcome; But, with it that close, Sen. Dillard could certainly go ahead with a discovery recount as to 25% of the precincts to see if there were any discernible problems with the voting. Will he? Close call, but probably not. With Hynes having scheduled a presser for Thursday morning, it is starting to look like Brady-Plummer v. Quinn-Cohen].
Four reasons why the State GOP is in top shape
One, the Party believes they have a solid U. S. Senate candidate in Cong. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Highland Park, 10th CD), who they are thrilled to have on the top of the ticket. Yes, he will have his critics both inside and outside of the party. But, they believe he has nothing like the baggage of Alexi Giannoulias, and the Democrats also have to deal with the public corruption trial of their 2006 top of the ticket, former IL Governor Rod Blagojevich. That trial is likely to start in the summer or fall, 2010.
Two, the Republicans think they are focused like a laser beam on jobs and public corruption, which they feel aligns closely with the public's preferences.
Three, there was very little discussion of social issues in the major Republican Primary races, and they think they will keep that focus for the general election. If the Democratic Party or the mainstream media want to raise those issues, they figure-- let them. For the Republicans, it is about not raising taxes, providing a healthy environment for reform and job growth, and going after what they view as the Illinois Democratic Party's culture of corruption. Virtually no Republicans are discussing social issue schisms in the Party.
Four, the State GOP is united in a way that they have not been for the last two decades. The six Republican Primary candidates for governor were all at the Union League Club on Wednesday morning and everybody was making nice, from Dan Proft to Andy McKenna, to everybody in between.
Take a listen:
Jim Ryan reflects on the Guv primary race:
Jim Ryan told me, "I'm disappointed, but I'll live." As to whether he still felt that McKenna tried to buy the election, Ryan said, "McKenna spent a lot of money, but the election is over...the bottom line is we need a Republican governor because we need some checks and balances, we don't have it."
Ryan did acknowledge, "We didn't raise enough money to get my message out the way I wanted to." Ryan said that taxes would continue to be a big issue in the fall election, asking as he had often asked during the campaign, "I mean especially during a recession, how can people raise taxes."
Jim Ryan on Bill Brady
Contrary to the line that was making the rounds of the mainstream television media last night, and picked up by Carol Marin in her Chicago Tonight interview on Wednesday, Ryan said "Bill Brady is not too conservative for Illinois." Ryan said he thought the Dems are in trouble and that "They brought this on themselves. They've had eight years to lead and they've failed on almost every level."
Ron Gidwitz, part of the Dillard brain trust
Ron Gidwitz [2006 Republican Primary candidate for Governor], confidant and benefactor of the Dillard campaign for Governor, said late this morning that Dillard was down about one hundred votes, and that Dillard "would have the votes when they finish counting." Gidwitz said, "If it's close enough and Dillard is down, they probably would ask for a recount."
Schillerstrom: in good spirits
When this journalist asked Bob Schillerstrom [who dropped out as a Republican Primary candidate in the last two weeks of the campaign] what he could have done to win, He said, "raised a couple more million dollars."
Andrzejewski: spent a million dollars of his own wealth and a happy warrior
Andy Andrzejewski, a young, novice, wealthy small businessman candidate for Governor who surprised this journalist and others with about 14% of the vote, said he had "no regrets." When I asked him if he thought he should have spent more money, he said "no." Adam said his campaign spent about 1.3 million dollars, and the great bulk of that was from his estimated ten million dollars in net worth.
McKenna: another happy warrior who got his ideas out there
When asked if it was worth the personal expense, McKenna said, "We talked about very important ideas and I think if you believe in the ideas that you talk about, then you don't stop at anything." [BTW, Team McKenna put out some very high quality ads, and some of the positive ones will benefit the Party in having set the stage for message development in the fall].
Republican Leader Cross, jabbing again at Quinn on taxes.
House Republican Leader Cross said, "I think the fact that [Quinn] wants to continue to raise taxes in this economy when people are struggling is going to be a real problem for him."
Gov. Haley Barbour: The IL Democratic Party is bringing unity to the State GOP
When this journalist asked Gov. Barbour, the keynote speaker at the Union League Club unity event, if he was going to bring unity to the Illinois Republican Party, he said, "I think the Illinois Republican Party is going to have unity with or without Haley Barbour, largely because of the terrible shape that Illinois is in because of the Democratic Party." When I asked what a gubernatorial Republican Primary recount would do to unity, Barbour said, "I don't think it bothers anything; somebody is going to win, somebody is not; it may be a few days before we know; I think either one of them [Brady or Dillard] can win."
Cong. Mark Kirk: the leading Republican happy warrior and chief message developer--It's jobs and public corruption, stupid.
Cong. Mark Kirk, speaking to the energized crowd, described himself as a "fiscal conservative, social moderate and national security hawk who would lead our party to victory." Kirk, who said the No. 1 issue is "more jobs," also argued that the Ginnoulias family's withdrawal of 70 million dollars from the bank may trigger yet another expensive taxpayer bailout to cover up for what they have done." Kirk reminded the faithful that the Brightstart college saving program of Illinois, under Giannoulias management...lost 160 million dollars."
Kirk emphasized, when meeting with the media, that last night he had a much stronger response from his voters (57%) than Alexi Giannoulias did from his (38%). When I asked Cong. Kirk if the issue in the Senate campaign is jobs or public corruption, he said, "the No. 1 issue is jobs and the No. 2 issue is public corruption." When I asked how important Broadway Bank would be in the race, Kirk just said, "I think it will be an issue."
Brady: the Dems are destroying the State
Senator Brady gave a pretty standard stomp speech but did throw in that he understood why Senator Dillard is not ready to concede but he argued that the "Republican ticket," had no time to waste because the "Democrats are destroying the state."
Dillard: my Republican opponents made me a better Governor.
Senator Dillard, giving no ground to Brady on who would ultimately be declared the Guv nominee for the Party, stated that his competitors had run great campaigns that "hopefully will make him a better Governor."
Senator Murphy: It's about jobs and low taxes, stupid.
Senator Matt Murphy continued to differ with the mainstream media argument--as put forth again last night by most of the TV election analysts--"that with a thirteen billion dollar deficit, even the Republican politicians are going to have to eventually go along with a tax increase."
Murphy said "if your first and foremost priority is to put people back to work, you can't tell me that the first step in the direction of doing that is the largest tax increase in state history." Simply put, Murphy said such a "tax increase would cost more people their job and take the state in the wrong direction."
Proft is on board with either Brady or Dillard
Dan Proft said, notwithstanding that he argued during the campaign that only he would "turn Springfield upside down," and bring about a "policy revolution in Illinois," it would not be hard for him to support either Brady or Dillard in the general election. Proft said "elections are exercises in moral relativism and either Brady or Dillard is miles better than Pat Quinn or Dan Hynes, so it will not be hard to support either one of them and to work to make sure that we take back state government..."
As to the campaign outcome, Proft said, "The crossfire between Ryan, McKenna and Dillard definitely benefited Brady. That allowed him to shoot the gap."
In sum, this journalist worked the ornate room at the Union League Club pretty hard. And, what did I find? Even with my cynicism, my negativism and my probing, all I could find was that this is a Republican group of happy warriors, who, as I said before the election, in the words of our President, are "Fired up and Ready to go."
And, ironically, they want to use that spirit, to take back, not just the Governor's mansion, not just the Treasurer's office (Rutherford over Kelly), not just the Comptroller's office (Topinka over Miller); not just the 14th CD (Hultgren over Foster), the 11th CD (Kinsinger over Halvorson) and the 8th CD (Walsh over Bean); not just many state house and state senate seats; and to keep the open 10th CD seat (Dold over Seals) but also to take back the U. S. Senate Seat from the Democrats that Barack Obama won in 2004 and used to propel him to the Presidency in 2008. Really, now that last one would be irony. Even Barack would have to agree.
As you can see, State GOP Chairman Pat Brady (who ran the Union League Club of Chicago unity event) has as his motto: Make no small plans.