Friday, April 20, 2007
Personal Asides: Lovies Leather Wins Terrys Trivia Mike Noonan and Paul Caprio to be on Shootoutand Maybe, Just Maybe, Brad Cole Once Again: Calls for Popularly Elected State Central Committeemen.
Lovies Leather, one of the more perceptive contributors to this website, wins Terrys Trivia. The question: With the Democrats holding their 2008 convention in Denver, who was the only Democratic candidate Colorado supported for president since LBJ? Answer: Bill Clinton. Congratulations, Lovie!
Mike Noonan, the General George Patton of Democratic politics, the strategist and grassroots genius whom the Democrats turn to when the going is rough assuredly the brightest young manager and warrior in his party will be on Political Shootout with Paul Caprio, director, Family-PAC. Noonan pulled the victory for Bernie Stone out of the hat when many experts said that it was over for the old man. Naisy Dolar, the defeated opponent, recognized Noonans strategic pricelessness by attacking him last Sunday, a dumb thing to do. There is a possibility just that that another guest will be Brad Cole, newly reelected mayor of Carbondale (there, Ive got the town right!) over Sheila Simon who, we are told by the Associated Press, didnt want her prestigious family name to interfere with her winning on her own.
Well, it didnt and she didnt. There is a dearth of commentary on her loss in the left-leaning mainstream media, have you noticed? Can you imagine what it would have been like had she won? Shed be all over the front pages in Chicago as the logical choice to run for state AG when Lisa Madigan runs for governor. Channels 2, 5, 7 and 9 would be winging to Carbondale for interviews. But the fact that she lost dashing so many liberal hopes means that it just isnt much of a news story, is it? Nary a peep out of Lynn Sweet, Carol Marin, Jennifer Hunter, Mark Brown the usual suspects who could be expected to chortle if Simon had won the start of a brilliant career etc.
Paul Caprios take on the elections will be revelatory. And if were lucky enough to get Brad Cole, the reelected Carbondale mayor, itd be perfect. Itll be a good show anyhow: WLS-AM (890) at 8 p.m. this Sunday.
Now that weve just made up, I run the risk of once more alienating Doug Ibenthal a shame because I was just on the cusp of calling him for lunchbut I must comment as an old Republican geezer on one of his sacred causes, the need to have popular elections of Republican State Central Committeemen. When I returned to Illinois from Minnesota, the State Central Committeemen were all popularly electedand what a dynamic, responsive, alert, vigorous, intellectually acute team it was headed by Victor Smith, the chairman, a Robinson, Ill. weekly newspaper editor and including such notables as State Senator Pete Granata from the West Side bloc who carried a holstered pistol with himbulky under his $2,000 suit jacketready to defend his life from gang insurgents at all times. I attended all the meetings as a monitor for the National Committeeman, Bob Stuart and kept notes on all the sessions from 1964 to 1969 and even thereafter when I returned from Washington until Stuart resigned his post in 1973. So that was a pretty long time1964 to 1973 during which time all the Committeemen were elected by, ahem, popular will of the electorate.
I had moved from a state where the state committee was far more effective and none were elected on the primary ballotMinnesota where the SCC consisted of all the county chairmen (elected by caucuses consisting of precinct people, representatives of legislative leaders in state House and Senate, state representative district people, town and village people), all the congressional district chairmen (in turn elected by caucuses) and appointees from various constituencies: congressmen appointees, Senate appointees, gubernatorial or gubernatorial candidates appointees, and a representative of the state finance committee. The total was something like 250 and none were on the popular ballot.
When they met, several times a year in the Twin Cities, it was a de facto convention in fact and in theory: they had the power to elect whomever they wished as state chairman, chairwoman and to reach across the state to pick whomever they chose not withstanding whether or not they were SCC members elect national committee members, pass resolutions, censure or approve legislative and congressional policies. At that time, Minnesota also had precinct caucuses identical to Iowa caucusesthe presidential primary being scotched because the DFL was mad that its favorite son Hubert Humphrey who was running the Adlai Stevenson candidacy got licked by insurgents favoring Estes Kefauver.
I can tell you which form was vastly superiorthe Minnesota version. That was the group that entreated Walter Judd to run for Congress against a failed GOP incumbent; the group that fought to a standstill over Ike and Taft; the group that provided the muscle behind election of two Republican mayors of Democratic St. Paul. There never was a machine in Minnesotas GOP but it couldnt gain traction with a SCC of that diversity. The SCC was widely representative but was so diverse ideologically ranging from right to left and in-between balanced that it was not in the pocket of any single group either the fat-cat financiers, or the Republican governor (I know because as an aide to the GOP governor I had to deal with them) or the congressional delegation (I know that, too, because as an aide to two congressmen I had to deal with them). But then next to a couple of youngsters in Illinois who feel otherwise, what do I know, right? Thats why the watchword in this state for many so-called professionals is: seldom right but never in doubt.
That State Central committee had great policy-making influence. With several congressmen opposed to the Eisenhower farm policy and in favor of high price supportsagreeing with Humphreythey were smacked down by stinging resolutions from the State CC. The SCC had the power and right to endorse candidatesalthough the primary system existed and occasionally disagreed with the SCCs endorsees. The party was governed very effectivelya microcosm of the partys electorate. In fact, as Ive stayed in touch with my adopted state, I think it can be said that Minnesotas emergence from deep blue to on the verge of going red can be attributed in part to the large SCC membership which truly reflect the burgeoning influence of movements such as right-to-life, the gun people, anti-tax people, etc.
If these were the provisions of SB 600 I would be enthusiastically in favor. Just so, I am very tepid about it because having seen the old system fail, I am not sanguine that it can work again just because a particular conservative group with which I agree on some things is behind it. Moreover the charge that it is being held up by State Representative Tom Cross, a social liberal, is a canard as it is a Senate bill which has not even been passed out of the Senate committee thus it is impossible for the House to take it up. Moreover, those who want to change the makeup of the SCC can easily do so by running and supporting Republican precinct committeemen who would support different people to the SCC. I like Tom Cross with whom I can disagree civilly because he has developed a great farm teamAaron Schock and others and succeeded in reelecting Brad Cole as mayor of Carbondale. I go to Springfield not un-occasionally and believe the House GOP is run far better under social liberal Cross than it was under his predecessor, social conservative Lee Daniels.
Now the fact that at age 78 I have had the experience of seeing and being active in the GOP of two states with widely different SCCs will, of course, cut no ice or have any effect at all on ideologues who are not interested in comparisons but determined to blast ahead on their way or the highway among whom I count my friend Senator Chris Lauzen who used to send me letters with sad faces drawn and tears running because I was not sufficiently conservative i.e. disagree with him. Unlike any other Republican legislative leader with whom I have dealt going back to 1953, I have never yet in twenty years of our association been able to convince Chris of anything that he had not previously decided. But we are friends and I still want him to run for Congress. I am not sanguine enough to imagine I have convinced anyone in the hard pro-SB-600 category for the simple reason that on this as with all other except the most incidental matters, they are constitutionally unable to compromise. They view all compromise as they do almost all changeas betrayal and renunciation of principle.
Now, Ill sit back and wait for the rejoinders.