Thursday, February 9, 2006

Thoughts While Shaving

The latest Chicago Tribune poll has a ho-hum quality to it: Judy Baar Topinka at 38, Jim Oberweis 17, Ron Gidwitz 11, Bill Brady 8 and undecided 25. Why ho-hum? The Tribune poll, especially for primaries, has been totally useless. Remember the poll that showed, until the very end, Bob Kustra winning the primary over Al Salvi who was hardly more than a blip on the screen? Remember the poll that showed George Ryan getting 28 percent of the black vote? He got about 7. The fact that Topinka is ahead is no shocker. Topinka has campaigned statewide for many years. Ever since I first met the Market Share people I’ve had the idea—I can’t prove it but—that they shade the outcome to please the client.

Anyhow: Oberweis is about where he should be before any media surge. Gidwitz’s rise is due to the big bucks he’s spent on TV advertising. Brady is still stuck on 8 and not moving (although now that Rauschenberger isn’t running for gov, downstate senators are moving to Brady: an important development the media haven’t caught up with yet).

If we give the poll any credibility at all, what it means is that Jim Oberweis has to go negative on a certain prematurely-orange-haired accordionist—but go negative in an adult, not juvenile, way. Simply use her record against her: her attempted deal on what was the Renaissance hotel in Springfield in order to get big donor Bill Cellini off the hook, with the opposing decision nixing the deal by then Attorney General Jim Ryan. Let Jim Ryan’s statement of the time do most of the work. That’s first.

Second—and I’m sure the Oberweis people will do this—find the clip of JBT doing the polka with Gov. George Ryan while the wording carries the message that she has been in the hybrid for a long, long time i.e. her not saying a peep during the big spending years of George Ryan. Third, they will go easy on her gay-rights stuff and her participation in the gay rights parades but allude to it in subdued fashion. You don’t have to hit people over the head with a dead fish in order to get the idea across. Fourth, they will with a little more definitude her flip-flop on abortion, from when she was a pro-life legislator to her more recent pronouncements.

Fifth, they will go into a little history. A few years ago, Jim Nalepa was a sure-fire winner over Bill Lipinski and the only thing that prevented that victory was Riverside Committeeman Topinka sending out a mass mailing for Democrat Lipinski. I’m sure they’ll show the sample ballot from Riverside. Sixth—and this is a big one—the name Peter Fitzgerald is now golden because he’s not running, became a sort of martyr by paying the price for naming Patrick Fitzgerald (no relation) as U.S. District Attorney whereupon he indicted George Ryan. Peter Fitzgerald also saved the Lincoln museum from being turned into a patronage dump by G. Ryan and his boys. While Peter was considering whether or not to run again, Judy was state Republican chairman. She refused to endorse him for reelection: imagine, the state GOP chairman refusing to endorse the Republican U.S. Senator for reelection! On a 50,000-watt station. It is the litmus test of belonging to the hybrid. Then after the show she denies she refused to endorse him.

The key would be to produce hard-hitting but deft commercials, stressing her stands but not demonizing her. Would there be a backlash, to Brady, for instance if the commercials are tough? Sure, there’s a chance of that but I don’t think Brady has the financial ammunition for the long haul. He’ll be in there until the end when, if he’s lucky, Oberweis will be nominated and bygones will be bygones…and if he’s not, Topinka will be nominated and nobody will forget that Bill Brady was the spoiler.


For us oldsters who remember the early days of the civil rights movement when vigorous speakers made rhymes and got the crowd swaying, the politicized funeral of Coretta Scott King was a blast from the past. Here was Joseph Lowery of the SCLC, 87, who hasn’t been on TV since Selma finally mustering up a string of firecrackers in old-time Baptist style to link, in mushy, emotional fashion, the billions spent on Iraq and billions not spent “for the poor.” How nostalgic.

And out trots Jimmy Carter, who assuredly was the worst president of the 20th century—far worse than the fictional “worst”—Warren Harding (who really accomplished things by cutting taxes, sending the economy spurting)…that Jimmy Carter who accomplished what few did before: build high inflation and high unemployment plus botching a recovery of Iranian-held hostages where three helicopters went bust in the desert, aborting a raid on Teheran. Yes, that Jimmy Carter, sour, unrelenting. And what does he say? He says that Katrina killed more blacks than whites (when in a proportionate sense, fewer blacks died than whites, given New Orleans’ population ratio). Also: Martin Luther King was wire-taped without his knowing it. That was supposed to be a zing at Bush? Who wire-taped King: the royal Democratic family of the Kennedys, JFK the president, his brother Bobby the AG and later LBJ through help of his aide Bill Moyers. But it was a fun time, even though it took 6 hours: the biggest Democratic boomerang rally since the one held in Minneapolis for Paul Wellstone.


Political Shootout Sunday should be ve-e-r-y interesting. On the Republican side, Rod McCollough, a consultant for Sandy Wegman for Lieutenant Governor who wants to “clear up things” concerning Joe Birkett’s indictment of him for falsifying candidate petitions. I’ve promised him only a few minutes on that topic. On the journalistic side, our old friend Russ Stewart, lawyer, political analyst for Nadig Newspapers. Should be good: that’s Sunday night at 8 on WLS.


  1. Tom, not all of these points are negatives; in fact they rebut some of the allegations that the Oberweis camp is already slinging- that Judy does not support conservatives or conservative issues.

    Example: Bill Lipinski, the pro-life democrat. Highlighting whatever support she gave him allows the Topinka camp to say that she currently does (Birkett) and has in the past (Lipinksi, Jim Ryan, etc.) supported pro-lifers.

    Ditto the Hotel deal. All she has to do is post evidence of Oberweis (or Brady, or Gidwitz) negotiating to clear up a bad debt. The Topinka campaign will highlight the good business practice of trying to clean up the books on a deal a prior administration made.

    Re: Peter Fitzgerald, I don't think that Jack Ryan endorsed his reelction either; in fact, Jack Ryan wanted to challenge Peter in the primary and throw him out then and there. Be that as it may, although Peter may still be a hero to some, his endorsement didn't do much at all for Rauschenberger, who is poplling behind Birkett in the Lt. Gov. race.

    I could go into more, but your plan has its limitations. The JBT camp may be saying, "Bring it on!"

  2. Thad
    The problem with her support of Lipinski was not that he was or was not pro life he is and was a Democrat! Her job as the leader of the GOP in Riverside is to promote the GOP! By the way Jim Nalepa was also pro life.
    It is not "cleaning up the books to give a contributor a sweetheart deal nobody else could get. The previous deal was also a sweetheart deal that screwed the taxpayers so taking pennies on the dollar just to get him off the hook was in nobodies best interest but Cilene's
    What does it matter if Jack Ryan endorsed him or not JBT was the HEAD OF THE ILLINOIS REPUBLICAN PARTY !!! Jack! was not. Peter was a sitting U.S Senator. JBT also endorsed Helen Shiller over Kurt Ekhardt the sitting committeeman of that ward. Helen Shiller is to the left of Stalin, and I can bring up the rumors that JBT was on the Blago side with the mayor of Rosemont but that is a rumor. JBT is no Republican, not in name or in beliefes