-By Jon Zahm
Rodney Davis, Special Projects Director for Congressman Shimkus has some strong talents. He knows how to articulate conservative positions. He understands how to manage campaigns. His track record in that area is much better than Jerry Clarke’s, who I wrote about yesterday. Rodney has good relationships with many people across the 13th District, including some key conservative activists. The way he managed the Congressional victory office in McLean County was clumsy, and did not properly respect local leaders, but he did well in the 10th and 17th Districts and other parts of the state.
But there is more to being a Congressional nominee than being a good campaign operative. Rodney lost the Mayor’s race in his home town of Taylorville in Christian County and he lost a State Rep race to Mike Madigan’s right hand man Gary Hannig. Stepping up to Congress after losing local races does not make sense.
I’m also concerned about the way that the party under Davis as Acting Executive Director raised money last quarter. Rather than building a broad base of support from many donors, they took $180,000 for one source in Chicago (Ken and Anne Griffin) who had also given lots of money to Democrats. Then those monies were sent to downstate county chairmen and their organizations and ended up back, in large part, in the state party coffers. It gives every appearance of being a money washing scheme that circumvents the new campaign donation limit laws. This funding pattern was uncovered by Doug Ibendahl of www.republicannewswatch.com and written about by Greg Hinz at Crain’s Chicago Business here. I have real ethical concerns about anyone who was involved in this at all, including Davis, State Chairman Pat Brady and Illinois Republican County Chairman Association leader Randy Pollard.
This leaves us two: Miss America 2003 and conservative activist Erika Harold of Urbana and Riverbend 9/12 leader and business owner conservative Kathy Wassink of Shipman. I will reserve my decision on those two until after hearing them at the Champaign County open forum this Saturday night the 12th at the Hilton Garden Inn in Champaign from 6 to 8 PM. Thanks to Chairman Habeeb for having an open and transparent meeting such as this.
Originally posted at The Race for Congress in Illinois’ New 13th.