Illinois Republicans are a patriotic bunch. They start their meetings with a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, the nation's unofficial loyalty oath. And so it was last week when Republican party leaders met at a Springfield hotel prior to attending Republican Day at the Illinois state fair.
Illinois Republicans are a patriotic bunch.
They start their meetings with a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, the nation's unofficial loyalty oath. And so it was last week when Republican party leaders met at a Springfield hotel prior to attending Republican Day at the Illinois state fair.
Republican county chairmen (party leaders, not county board leaders) held a meeting and prepared to recite the pledge. Oops. There was no flag in the room for them to face while reciting. What to do?
Why, call on a fellow named Gene to come to the rescue. Gene was wearing a shirt decked out in an American flag pattern. He came forward and the group of assembled Republicans pledged allegiance to his shirt.
You have to wonder how conservatives would have reacted had the Democrats done the same thing.
So the crowd for Governor's Day (aka Democrat Day) at the state fair was down compared to the previous few years. And the crowd for Republican Day was up. The inclination from some is to read great interpretations into this. The Republican Party is resurgent in Illinois. Democrats are in decline. This is huge.
Maybe. Another explanation is that this was the first year for Democrats without Rod Blagojevich bringing in several busloads of people who had no idea why they were there, but who were promised a free lunch as long as they cheered wildly for the governor. Without them, the place looked sort of empty.
The Republicans? They've got no less than seven people running for governor. Several of them showed up on Republican Day with a group of supporters in tow, all the better to convince the world that they are viable candidates. It begs the question: Would all of those people still have been there if just one person was running for governor?
For the record, Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, and DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom did the best job of filling the crowd with supporters. It was a near tie between the two based on the applause meter.
Gov. Pat Quinn might want to work on his stump speech.
He addressed a breakfast gathering of Democratic officials and two things stuck out. One, he went on way too long. Two, he never said in his speech that he wants another term as governor. It's one of those things a candidate should mention, even if you assume the crowd already knows that.
"I want to announce I am not running for lieutenant governor." Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, on Governor's Day, separating himself from about six dozen other people in both parties.
"There was a man who spent a great deal of money against me to find out what I was thinking. What I was thinking at the time all came to pass." Former Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka on Blagojevich's expensive anti-Topinka "What is she thinking?" ad campaign in the 2006 gubernatorial campaign.
"Loosely translated from an ancient Indian language, it means Illinois state comptroller." Democratic Comptroller candidate Raja Krishnamoorthi, on what his name means.
U.S. Rep. John Shimkus delivered another stirring speech at the fair.
He said Republicans have consistently said no to things. Things like bailing out Wall Street, bailing out automakers, an energy bill, health care reform.
"Just say no," Shimkus said. "That's going to be our chant from now to election day."
Good idea. Reinforce the notion that Republicans don't stand for anything, they just offer knee-jerk opposition to anything coming from Barack Obama.
Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, isn't unique because he's running for governor. Heck, who isn't running at this point?
What set Brady apart last week was his footwear as he prepared to set out for the fair. He was wearing cowboy boots and talked glowingly about them, including that they were made of ostrich, not cowhide.
"There is nothing more comfortable than ostrich," he continued. "Cow leather isn't near a comfortable as ostrich."
At that point, a reporter joked that Brady had just lost the farm vote by dissing cows. And then that politician's reflex kicked in, the one that allows them to quickly cover themselves before permanent damage is done.
"Cows are good for a lot," Brady said without pausing and without elaborating, but having his positive views on cows on the record.
Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.