Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Does Her Accordion Have One More Squeeze?
The rumor mill was swirling today, carrying hints that State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka will not run for the Republican nominee for governor. If she doesnt, it will serve notice that the bad gamble she made years ago has finally turned up snake-eyes. Contagiously comedic, an expert at quick repartee, a quick study on budget issues, irrepressibly adroit with superb contacts in the media due to her feminist connections (a former reporter herself) normally she would be considered to be a comereven nationallythrough force of personality. Shes the GOPs best ethnic politician, a Czech in a state that has rewarded Czechs before: Anton Cermak for mayor, Otto Kerner for governor. And she crosses over. Not for nothing does Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) declare that he helped pull her through her last tough campaign against Tom Dart by pitching black votes for her. Hes right and he did.
The one-time pro-lifer has bet the ranch on the fact that she could reach into the liberal constituencies and bring them home while holding her conservative base by playing exclusively to the economic side (talking spending cuts, even tax cuts) while playing her accordion for the pro-aborts and pro-gay rights lobby, two major elements of the Democratic base. Every time you look at Judy you see someone who single-handedly kept the Republicans from winning an Illinois congressional seat. Some years ago, conservative Jim Nalepa ran for Congress against a severely weakened incumbent Democrat Bill Lipinski who was the recipient of a new district. Nalepa was within an ace of winning until the Riverside GOP committeeman distributed sample ballots marked for Lipinski. The margin of victory was determined by that decision. The committeeman: Judy Baar Topinka.
The whisper today was that Judy talked to Jim Edgar who wished she would get in the race but that, on the other hand, she has been disappointed by lack of money. One of her major contributors, Ron Gidwitz, is in the race for governor and as a scion of great wealth is determined to make himself known by TV commercials to make up for all those years in the backroom when others took the bows. His TV commercials ought to get an award for honesty of presentation. They show a grim, humorless, balding guy with the warmth of a new arrival at Graceland Cemetery.
If Judy doesnt get in the race, the liberals only hope is former Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood. Shes got money of her own and isnt bad on TV.