Monday, June 1, 2009

In Defense of Adam Andrzejewski (By Bruno Behrend)

Guest Post by Bruno Behrend.

While few would disagree with Tom Roeser's view that the GOP is bereft of leadership, he has completely missed the boat in his commentary on Adam Andrzejewski.

Tom's primary issue seems to be his “lack of experience” in governance. Adam makes the point (which I agree with) that all this experience has gotten us exactly nowhere. Ryan and Blagojevich had long resumes in governance. Mike Madigan is perhaps the most savvy politician in Illinois. Together, these folks have driven the state into a ditch.

Adam’s campaign stands for the proposition that experience without leadership is next to worthless. Illinois’ financial condition, as well as the condition of the ILL GOP, proves his point.

There are many people in our party that have experience. Experience in:

· Cutting deals with Democrats

· Raising taxes

· Acquiescing to tax and spending interests

· Driving back to their districts to whine about how little power they have.

Few of them seem to have much interest in leading on policy or bold ideas.

Adam, on the other hand, is out there running on well-thought out bold ideas (just check the “Issues Tab at, free of the baggage weighing down his “more experienced” GOP wannabes. Furthermore, Adam’s success as an entrepreneur counts as important experience that will help bring needed entrepreneurial leadership to politics. He also went on to found an organization that brought over $1 billion dollars of transparency to local government. He has accomplished a great deal of good even before holding office.

This is a good time to specifically address the "citizen pilot" and "surgeon" metaphors in Tom's article. These analogies sound cute, but completely ignore the most important aspect of politics – leadership. If I stay with your metaphor for the moment, the obvious argument is that, other than Adam, every potential “pilot” or “surgeon” on the ILL GOP horizon has experience “crashing the plane” and “killing the patient.”

But it is leadership, not experience, that is the most important point factor. Experienced surgeons operate on people, they don’t set policy for the Hospital Network. Pilots fly planes, they don’t run airlines. To compare this basket of learned skills to the rare quality of political leadership borders on nonsense. If Illinois was in moderately good condition, your “competent manager” ideology might make a modicum of sense. In its current condition, something newer and bolder is in order.

This is not to say that experience has no value. Leaders lead. The “experienced” follow. When Adam wins the Governor’s Race, plenty of talented and experienced people will gladly help execute the ideas and policies that he is running on.

I could go about the task of dismantling the argument for any one of the other potential contenders, but I would rather that these potential candidates proceed to make their own case, and see how they soon as they stop reading entrails, consulting the stars, checking polls, or try to get an appointment to “genuflect” in front of Andy McKenna. (see the latest Bernie Schoenberg article for details).

I find it ironic that Tom laments the lack of leadership in this party, but falls back on the thin gruel of "lack of experience" when someone like Adam steps up and leads. I think it is the height of arrogance to argue that the only people qualified to run Illinois are the same people who ran Illinois into a ditch. This critique extends to the chattering class and editorial boards that complain about the condition of the state while they continue to endorse the same “experienced” incumbents who created its condition.

Lastly, Illinois Republicans should be smart enough to know that for a Republican to win the governor’s race, they will need to win independents and so-called "Reagan Democrats" while simultaneously holding down the GOP base. Adam Andrzejewski is the ONLY candidate who can draw the votes from across Illinois' broad political spectrum necessary to win the Governor’s race.

We can sit and wait for the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan, but we do so at the risk of missing the opportunity to back a leader like Adam Andrzejewski.


Bruno Behrend,the co-author of “Illinois Deserves Better,” is also policy advisor and database consultant for Adam Andrzejewski’s gubernatorial campaign.

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