Monday, September 19, 2005
Immigration Looms As Big Issue in GOP Governors Contest
The smashing victory of State Sen. Bill Brady as the Conservative Summit endorsee has led some supporters of Jim Oberweis who placed second to play the I-Card issue against the young Bloomington legislator.
Jim Leahy, grassroots coordinator for Oberweis and executive director of the Republican Assembly of Illinois spoke out with great passion on my WLS radio show last night and has been calling other radio talk shows to point out that Brady was a co-sponsor (for three days until he took his name off) of SB-1623 the Matricula Consular legislation which was signed into law by Gov. Blagojevich. That legislation, sponsored by a number of Democrats including Senate President Emil Jones, allows Hispanic aliens to use the card as a valid identification to get loans and obtain other benefits . Leahy seemed to indicate that Brady had second thoughts about co-sponsorship of the bill but nevertheless voted for it.
Thus does immigrationthe I Card issuebecome the first skirmishing issue between Oberweis, a staunch foe of illegal immigration, and Brady who generally is seen to reflect a more moderate view of the issue. Oberweis has long trumpeted a get-tough stand on illegal immigration and has been getting enthusiastic support on the issue from grassroots conservatives. A random check of calls on most conservative-oriented local talk shows seems to validate the Oberweis campaign assessment that it is a strong issue indeed for any candidate who applies it. Oberweis himself is quick to say that his use of the issue in a television commercial two years ago when he ran for the U. S. Senate was unfortunate, magnifying the issue to a point where it appears to be a racist-tinged assault on all immigration which is not what Oberweis had in mind. Oberweis was in support of a so-called CLEAR bill which would restrict illegal immigration. The commercial, which featured a helicopter flying over Soldier Field seemed to portray the view that the state was being inundated with illegals.
The Brady-Oberweis battle seems to take center stage and leaves other Republican candidates seemingly in the dust. The issue presents a somewhat ticklish question for Brady and Oberweis, two Roman Catholics. While church social policy is by no means as dogmatic on illegal immigration as it is on abortion, there is no question that most U.S. Catholic bishops are somewhat malleable on immigration, for many reasons having to do with traditional views toward open immigration. The fact that most Hispanics are Roman Catholic has not been overlooked by most bishops.