Tuesday, March 14, 2006
This Blog Picks: Joe Birkett for Lieutenant Governor.
Whenever he calls my house for me and gets my wife on the phone, Joe Birkett says The West Sides the best side. Thats because he knows she was reared in Austin, his neighborhood. Thats not why Im picking himbut it doesnt hurt, his being from the West Side where shes from. Ive been a fan of Joes for many years, was the only participant in the Conservative Summit to vote for him for governor. For a while that afternoon it seemed I was standing off the whole crowd. Ive been impressed with his background: one of 10 kids whose father died early, his tough but compassionate views on crime, his up-from-the-streets moxy, his social conservatism, his average guy qualities encased in superb intellectual grasp of the law and original intent. Hes undeniably a strong asset to Judy Baar Topinka as her choice for lieutenant governor; undoubtedly the only thing shes done that I agree with.
Not to take anything away from Steve Rauschenberger who has been cited so often as an expert on state government and is Ron Gidwitzs good choicebut Ive seen well qualified candidates like Steve before who somehow dont seem to either get the financial support or the emotional click with the voters. Steves undoubtedly the one most Republicans would hire for governor. His communications skills are great and he has the root honesty that is required in this business. I look upon Steve as the same kind of icon who towered over the legislative branch in my youth who was the rank-and-file Republicans first choice for the presidency: Bob Taft. Blunt and honest, both men have similar characteristics. If Steve gets nominated instead of Joe Ill not be disconsolatebut for me its Joe.
As you know, Lieutenant Governor runs solo on the March 21st ballot, not as a running mate, so you can vote for whatever gubernatorial choice you want and also for Joe. Im going to be voting for Jim Oberweis and Joe Birkett. I havent been bothered one iota by this stuff concerning Rolando Cruz; it was Jim Ryans baby. Joe is known as an outstanding prosecutor with a toughness that I like. It tells you something that Democratic strategist Mike Noonan, whos been on my show with Joe (and who managed Lisa Madigans campaign for AG that defeated Joe) ends up liking Birkett and telling me so, theres a flinty quality in Birkett that is a winning attribute.