Guests on Political Shootout next Sunday (WLS-AM: 8:00 p.m.) will be Forrest Claypool, a Democratic candidate for the Cook county board and Paul Caprio, director of Family Pac, and a leading social conservative.
This Sundays performance by Ron Gidwitz, a Republican candidate for governor and Democratic strategist Mike Noonan convinced me that we could do a whole lot worse than having Gidwitz as governorand in some aspects we couldnt do better. In fact, I would wager that he could easily be the least politically self-protective, cautious and timid about cutting the budget of all the Republican candidates, impressing me that with the $100 million he has from Helene Curtis and thewhat would you guess?--$400 million or so that his wife has as the daughter of Jim Kemper, that he would take great risks to do the right thing, even if he were to mean that he would serve only one term. To Ron, the challenge is not just being elected but being remembered as a great governor. He has improved his communication skills enormously from the last time he was on the program. He is still uncharismatic and nothing can change that but he may well have mastered the Dick Ogilvie knack of capitalizing on his non-charisma.
To those of my fellows who worry about his social views, I would say hes not nearly as socially liberal as either Rod Blagojevich, Eddie Eisendrath or Judy Baar Topinka. Hes against partial birth abortion, would not be caught dead in a gay rights parade. He impresses me very much with his candor, his willingness to admit that yes, he was an insider for many years, and precisely because of that he knows the territory sufficiently well to be able to clean it up. After all, you dont ask a minister to clean up a bawdy house, do you? At one or two points he was not particularly forthcoming but he was on Kjellander. With respect to his not remembering whether or not he gave $20,000 to George Ryan and to Daley, I suppose when you have that much money you can easily lose track. I tried to hit him with tough questionsto-wit:
o You voted for Kjellander as National Committeeman at the State convention. Yep.
o You asked for Kjellanders support early in this race with the admonition that both of you would keep it quiet. No.
o You wont reveal the names of investors or profits you have made from the public housingsome say slumthat you run in Joliet.
It is no slum, there are no or very slight profits. If the city of Joliet would get out of the way we could release everything. Theyre blocking us.
o You gave Mayor Daley hefty contributions. Yeah, at the behest of my wife [here she nodded vigorously] and I dont remember how much.
o Do you think Joe Birkett is in a conflict of interest by prosecuting the toll-way I-Pass responders deal in which IGOR gave large sums to Blagojevich and was rewarded by ever-spiraling state contractssince Joe is a Republican candidate for Lt. Governor?
Yes. [Here Democrat Noonan says no]
* Do you think that Edward McNally, the acting U.S. attorney in Southern Illinois who testified as a defense witness for George Ryan is in conflict of interest? Yes, absolutely.
* Would you irrevocably declare against a tax hike now? Nope but I cant see any reason for a hike.
* Do you think Gov. Blagojevich is right by pushing legislation to force Topinka to release hundreds of millions of dollars in frozen funds for unpaid medical bills? Nope. There are other ways to pay those bills.
* Do you think an adviser to Louis Farrakhan belongs on the governors hate crime panel? Absolutely not.
* Where do you come down with respect to Bushs port deal? In favor and I think the 45-day delay will help get it through.
In addition, I met for the first time his wife, Christina Kemper Gidwitz who is a real charmer and I can understand why in her day she was a model often for the cover of Vogue. In essence, those who say the GOP is on its last legs dont understand that a party that can muster such excellent candidates as Oberweis, Brady and Gidwitz (sorry, Judy) is far from being sick unto death.