Crossing Out Rick Perry's Illinois Dreams

-By Warner Todd Huston

What is it they always say about politics? It ain’t beanbag? Well, Texas Governor Rick Perry just learned that the decades old saying isn’t just hot air in Illinois. And who was it that the Texan learned this harsh lesson from? No less than Illinois House Leader Tom Cross.

A few months ago I heard the same rumor everyone else did. Tom Cross was signing onto Rick Perry’s nascent campaign for President. Cross was to become the Texan’s Illinois ramrod. I actually heard this from folks in Perry’s Illinois campaign. People I know and trust. People who really thought they were working with Cross.

Neither I nor Perry’s early Illinois campaign staff were the only ones laboring under the illusion that Tom Cross had joined team Perry. Apparently even team Perry’s main Texas staff thought so.

Sun Times columnist Lynn Sweet happened to contact the Perry campaign asking whom she should contact in Illinois for news on Perry’s Prairie State drive. The answer? House Republican Leader Tom Cross, of course.

Says Sweet:

When I asked the Perry campaign last week who the Illinois chairman was, I got this reply from Catherine Frazier, the deputy press secretary.

“Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross is our State Chairman, let me know if you need anything else, thanks!”

Not so fast, says Tom “Double” Cross.

When pressed Cross himself told Sweet that he was not committed to Perry’s campaign at all. He went further than a mere denial, too. He told Sweet he couldn’t imagine where she got that idea he was on Perry’s campaign. Talk about bold!

When Sweet went back to the Perry campaign she got an apology from Frazier, Perry’s staffer. “I completely misspoke,” she told Sweet.

So, was this just some crossed wires between team Perry and Tom Cross or did Cross lead the Perry campaign on rudely cutting them off at the knees once Perry lost his edge in the polls?

My Eight Ball says “signs point to yes.” It’s a Tom “Double” Cross about face for sure.

Doug Ibendahl has the smoking gun in the form of an email from Cross’ top staffer, Kevin Artl, the Political Director of the House Republican Organization.

The email plainly relays that “we,” meaning the House GOP Org., was looking for Perry delegates.

From: Kevin Artl
Date: October 10, 2011 9:42:45 PM CDT
To: Anthony Anderson
Subject: Re: Rick Perry/Christine Dudley


Sorry I’m getting back to you so late. My wife and I had twins last week and it’s been a bit hectic.

We are definitely looking for Perry delegates. If you or others are interested, let me know asap. I am in and out of meetings tomorrow, so I will try to call, if not let’s connect on Wednesday.


Kevin Artl
Political Director
House Republican Organization
Office: 815.577.1400
Fax: 815.577.1401
Cell: 630.330.2355

If Artl hadn’t been told to gear up for Perry, he would not have told the recipient of the email that “we are definitely looking for Perry delegates.”

As Ibendahl asks, “Does Tom Cross really expect us to believe he’s unattached to the Perry campaign when his top staffer is recruiting delegates?”

Well, I can fully believe and accept that Cross is unattached to the Perry campaign… now that the Texas Governor’s poll numbers have fallen through the floor. However, it’s pretty obvious that Cross led the Perry camp to understand that he would be their man in Illinois. Yet when things got tough for the Governor, Cross ran for the first exit door he could find.

But let’s remember, here. Cross never publicly stood for team Perry. He never made any formal announcements. So, technically our House GOP Leader is not abandoning Perry in the full light of a commitment made in public. Still it is clear he made a verbal agreement, began to set things up to fulfill that agreement, then jumped like a rat from a ship when the numbers turned sour.

Rick Perry may be the top dog in Texas, but he learned who not to trust in Illinois, didn’t he?

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