Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Big News Isn’t Topinka-Birkett, Gidwitz-Rauschenberger

Media savants are licking their chops and surveying the polls to see if (a) Topinka can survive the battering she’s going to get in the all-out Republican slug-fest known as the 2006 primary; (b) somebody with a big name is going to run with Jim Oberweis; (c) whether or not Bill Brady sticks with his campaign and (d) whether the feds will ran on Topinka’s parade. All the while the largely uncovered big news is in the other party.

Edwin Eisendrath who will shortly announce he’s running for governor is that big news. A wealthy (by inheritance) clean-cut, boyish guy in his mid-40s, pencil-thin, with the attitude of a patrician idealist (who looks all of 23), socially liberal but able to understand the needs of business’ role in economic development with a youthful forelock falling over his forehead. Quick to laugh, self-deprecating, he became a policy wonk early, has a lanky, youthful demeanor, somewhat disheveled. He was the area federal HUD director based in Chicago he represents the center-left with a tad more center than left. He was an alderman from the near north side and looks, for all the world, like a 21st century reincarnation of Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” I’ve known him for years, half expect him to shove his hair back from his forehead and say, “well uh let me say uh this about that” ala JFK.

He’s not a dynamic speaker—as of now, anyhow. Low key but his interior is burningly intense. Is the step-son of Lou Manilow the big Chicago philanthropist. Eisendrath is: charmingly disorganized but with a youthful style that makes you want to help him and old ladies to adjust his necktie. When he ran successfully for alderman he made a lot of foolish mistakes when he ran against the aged Syd Yates for Congress. Image-makers are saying this is the raw material they can work with. And get this: his supporters say he is willing to spend $20 million; Dick Mell’s organization is ready to roll. No, the big news is with the Democrats. If the number 20 holds up and the Mell prowess continues, the real action will be in the Democratic party. Were Eisendrath to win the nomination, he would appear not unlike the public persona of ex-Virginia governor Mark Warner who is readying a campaign for president, throwing away some of the liberal script and returning the Democratic party to its venerable philosophic moorings. Eisendrath vs. Baar Topinka in the final? Don’t bet against Eisendrath in that shakedown.

1 comment:

  1. If Eisendrath runs... don't think that Judy Baah has a free ride. She carries some democratic support (she would). And this is one Republican that would love to see Judy squirm, if only for the redemtion of conservatism in Illinois. Not that Oberweis could win a statewide election... I would just rather lose with something I believe in than win with a republican who is only a republican because of the little "(R)" next to her name... Either way, a democrat will probably win the governorship... poor Illinois... poor Republicans... and maybe... poor Blago...