Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Republican Debate on Channel 2 Last Night. It’s Oberweis v. Brady

The Republican gubernatorial debate on Channel 2 last night convinced me of one thing. Those who have worried about Topinka scooping up the marbles are wrong. While it is more advantageous for Jim Oberweis (who did very well in the debate) to position himself as the Topinka challenger, I think the real contest will be between Oberweis and Brady. Reason: I don’t know what she’s done to herself and maybe it was my TV set, but Judy looked haggard, at least ten years older than she is (61). Could it be she lost too much weight? In which case remind me not to do the same. It’s better to be fat and have the wrinkles fill out than to be gaunt and have the wrinkles stand out there. While it’s not politically correct to criticize a lady’s appearance, I thought her hands were shockingly gnarled when she raised them to gesture. Either the years or her makeup person torpedoed her.

In addition to which, those who expected a tone of authority to come from one who is state treasurer, was state senator and state representative, it didn’t. I thought she would have communicated a sense of ease with business topics. Asked where in the budget she would cut, she said the driveway to the governor’s mansion which Rod isn’t using anyhow—a saving of $1 million. I agree with those who say Oberweis occupied the Reagan posture even to the deferential bob of the head to show humility. He was superbly equipped to give authority in the debate and that he did.

I also think that the debate helped Bill Brady enormously. He has been the unknown factor up here in northern Illinois. His description of himself as Goldielocks—half way between Topinka’s experience and the businessmen’s non-experience, was masterful and a winner. So in summary, I think the race is between Oberweis and Brady. If it becomes such, will Topinka slip in? After last night, I don’t think so. She simply didn’t show the expertise her backers have insisted she has.

I’m not much impressed by those who say Oberweis has run several times and hasn’t won. Bill Proxmire, who became the leading Democrat in Wisconsin, ran for governor in 1952, 1952 and 1956—and lost every time. When he asked why he wasn’t winning, the answer came back that he was too smooth, too prepared, too oracular almost like a radio announcer. Proxmire then began to scratch his head, say “well” a lot before answering and hem and haw as if in deep thought. It took many years for him to develop a style that carried him through his career.

There’s no doubt that television is Brady’s medium. To my friends who say I dwell too much on telegenic charm, I remind them on JFK on the tube and the haggard, tired, grey Nixon in response. Brady is a made for TV candidate, Oberweis less so. Gidwitz is just himself. Frankly, I didn’t think Gidwitz bombed: he just was himself which isn’t too bad when recognized as a non-charismatic businessman.

So in summary: I think the race could well be between Oberweis and Brady. I have changed my impression of Judy. The longer she is away from the cameras the better she looks, but when they’re all together she comes off second to worst. Unless she gets a new makeup artist and better command of the statistics befitting her reputation.


  1. I totally agree with your assesment of the race. Both Brady and Oberwies came off well. I was shocked at how badly JBT both looked and presented herself. She was dour, negative and really lacked polish. Her supporters had better have had a wake-up call. Blago will decimate her in a debate.

  2. Her supporters had better have had a wake-up call. Blago will decimate her in a debate.

    Most of her "supporters" are Democrats / Blago supporters.

    Hope the voters do the right thing this March.

  3. It seems like while she was talked into running, she wasn't talked into running very hard.

  4. I also like your assesment of the race from everything I can gleen. It's a little hard for a political amateur from the 'burbs to assess Brady's standing; it's one thing to have a sense of the donwstate/upstate differences, but it's something else to try to evaluate their impact on a specific race that includes a downstate candidate.

    Except for a little better name recognition what's the difference between JBT & Corine Wood when the task is to sell oneself to GOP primary voters? Perhaps JBT is a little more cozy with the mainstream media, but there are an awful lot of GOP primary voters who ignore the mainstream media. Jim Ryan & Pat O'Malley slugged it out for the conservative vote all the way to the finish line & the voters were smart enough not to let Wood slip in. If JBT continues this campaign she could find herself in the same predicament, and so far she hasn't given Gidwitz any reason to step aside to give her a chance to divide and conquer; he will siphon off a substantial number of moderate to liberal primary voters who believe a businessman is better suited to clean up house than a functionary who rose through the Thompson-Edgar-Ryan debacle.

  5. Tom was on target with his analysis of the GOP gubernatorial candidates performance during the Naperville debate on Wednesday night. Oberweiss came across as wearing his heart on his sleeve with nothing being phony or contrived. Brady (an unknown commodity around Chicagoland's collar counties) came across as very polished. Gidwitz was likeable but lacked the experience that the others had before a camera and crowd. Judy came across to the television viewer as all form and no substance. She is a likeable, entertaining, and the media people like her open and glib talk because it makes good copy BUT, she does not come across as knowledgeable on the issues or as a leader.

  6. It seems that Oberweis may slip ahead of Topinka. That would be a shocker to most Illinoians, as she is almost considered a shoe-in candidate.