# 2: The Tribs Gidwitz-Rauschenberger Endorsement is a Blow to Topinka. That Shes Got the Sun-Times Nod was Expected.
No newspaper endorsement todaygiven the low estate that most newspapers have these daysis as important as it used to be. While the Tribunes recommendation of Ron Gidwitz and Steve Rauschenberger is a surprise and definitely valuable to their campaign. The Sun-Times endorsement of Judy Baar Topinka was expected and it remains to be seen if the newspaper which has fast become the liberal Democratic publication in the city (moving from a kind of moderate liberal stance to a left-wing advocate) would give Topinka approval in the general where the Democratic candidate will be Rod Blagojevich.
About the Trib plug, one must recall that earlier management of the newspaper gave its presidential endorsement to Rep. John B. Anderson in 1980 and Anderson went on to carry 7 percent of the Republican electorate. That was the low-point in the newspapers 180 turnaround from its old paleo conservative daysa turnaround which it has deftly moderated in recent years.
However, having said that, there is no doubt that the Gidwitz-Rauschenberger team is strengthened and heartened by the endorsement as it should be. I have been a somewhat lonely prophet about Gidwitz, not endorsing him but saying all along that were he to become governor, he would likely be a great one, bolstered by a multi-millionaires not needing the job and a multi-millionaires wish to be remembered as a great governor, one tackling tough tasks even if it means he is defeated for reelection. His communications skills have greatly improved. I have been steadily impressed by his doughty nature. And the fact that he is devoid of the political arts of charm, baloney and oleaginous verbiage is a big boost in his favor, I think.
The second impact of the endorsement is that it is a body-blow for Judy Baar Topinka who had every right to expect an endorsement from the states biggest paper which radiates socially moderate Republicanism. So far Gidwitz has managed to steer clear of conservative attacks because of his social liberality. Now I would imagine his liberality would be played up by his conservative rivalsparticularly Jim Oberweis. By playing it up, these conservatives will be advertising reasons for Gidwitz to take votes from Topinka. Tough fiscal candidate Gidwitz can soothe social conservatives by pleading that at this stage, with respect to abortion, a governor would not play as decisive a part as he would in earlier years, although he should be called upon to clarify a few things. First, if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade and send the issue back to the states, would a Governor Gidwitz play a major role in support of pro-abortion legislation here? Second, a question ignored up to now because Gidwitzs chance were regarded as problematic: will Gidwitz support the Blagojevich morning after plan and embryonic stem cell research. The media have not asked him these questions. I have. (And Im not telling; thats for later).
If he says he will not take a pro-abortion stance outside of his earlier announced position and will leave Illinoisans to determine the issue themselves, he would be politically astute, resembling the Gov. Mitt Romney position when he ran in Massachusetts of several years ago (since then, running for president, he has changed). On the morning after issue, Gidwitz would sound reasonable if he denounced the high-handed way Blagojevich applied to it and said that legislation would be the only way to proceed, not executive order, but he would reserve passage or failure of such a measure to laissez faire.
Gidwitz has a powerful ally, one he has never used, in Henry Hyde who headed his exploratory committee. Hydes name is legend among social conservatives. If Hyde would say from the standpoint of long association with the Gidwitz family that Gidwitz would remain consonant with his personal opinion on abortion rights and not be an abortion crusader, it would be of enormous help. Enormous. But whether he can do that would depend on Gidwitzs own views. If Gidwitz takes a personal pro-choice stand and says he will follow a hands-off stance basis the division of the state on the issue, it would be very wise. He shouldnt worry about pro-choice fall-off as he would still occupy the middle course between Topinka and his social conservative rivalsand he must remember that in the general election, nobodybut nobodyis going to get the pro-abortion vote over Rod Blagojevich.
Having said this, the election is still totally up in the airbut I think its fair to surmise that Topinkas star is declining. . A declining Topinka base and sharply or even slightly rising Gidwitz support, will start to level the field. Jim Oberweis could well move forward to take the lead under this scenario as the Topinka totals come down and the Gidwitz candidacy is assailed by Oberweis and Brady as pro-choice and pro-gay rights. Heres the important thing that I find not sufficiently stressed by media moguls. The polls mean little in a primary. In a primary where organization means everything, Oberweis has the movement people who dominate grassroots organization: pro-lifers, 2nd Amendment people, home schoolers, anti-illegal immigration people. Oberweis has the organization. It doesnt show in the polls, necessarily or in flashy TV commercials, but media pundits should avoid being mis-led by their personal politics and recognize that the heart and soul of the Illinois Republican grass-roots is socially conservative. This race can be compared to the 2004 presidential where while media savants pondered how effective John Kerry was on the stump, Karl Rove and Rich Mellman perfected a grass-roots organization that topped that of the Democrats.
Social conservative Bill Brady, who has just taken out a $250,000 loan may start capitalizing on any discontent with Oberweis if some conservatives believe he is not electable. All along, Brady has demonstrated the attractiveness on the stump to get the nomination; he has failed to raise the money and I dont think his organization is very effective (notwithstanding his endorsement by the Illinois State Rifle Association).. Moreover as the Gidwitz endorsement gains currency, the news media will start recognizing that he is, in fact, a possible governor. Everybody seems a winner in this formulae except Topinka who, still leading because of her many years as a statewide candidate, has not shown the fiscal or governmental expertise to command the discussion on where Illinois should go. The Tribs assessment of her weakness on substance in the editorial is devastating.
Finally, where are the media wise-guys who said the Illinois GOP is dead from the shoulders both ways? Youve got an MBA business genius who built a small dairy business into a multi-million-dollar enterprise, who doubles as a prize-winning investment counselor
a mega-millionaire married to another mega-millionaire who built a cosmetics business into an international leadertied to a Lieutenant Governor who is acknowledged as the legislatures unrivaled expert on the budget and spending
a state senator who at 44 is regarded as one of the best communicators in the business
and a veteran female state treasurer with a wittily self-deprecating personality tied to a Lieutenant Governor candidate who is the best prosecuting attorney in Illinois.
Time for media to stop prattling conventional wisdom and get real.