And make no mistake - Brady doesn’t have a chance to win on Tuesday. All of the real polls show that a large percentage of Republican voters still aren’t familiar with him. We’re not talking about the few thousand who might ever go to a GOP event somewhere in Illinois – we’re talking about the vast majority who don’t. Brady hasn’t been raising or spending the money to get on television with ads to change this reality – and Brady knows it. If too many conservatives throw their votes away – they can blame themselves when we end-up with Topinka – the liberal frontrunner that Brady protects.
True, Brady probably picks-up some gullible voters who have read about his preaching on the need for civility in this Primary. We’re only surprised that he finds the time for the Eddie Haskell routine when he’s out constantly bashing Oberweis and lying about his record.
Bill Brady’s been running a dishonest campaign and making childish attacks on Jim Oberweis from day one. Once he even took a cheap shot at President Bush. We’ve chronicled these in prior editorials: So Much for that Illinois GOP Code of Conduct; Has Bill Brady Worn Out His Welcome; and Candidate in Governor Race [Bill Brady] Says: “President Bush should have his head examined.”
The Last Debate
Brady was at it again with the help-Topinka antics Thursday night in the final debate at WTTW studios in Chicago. Brady tried to pull one of those underhanded “have you stopped beating your wife” type dirty tricks right out of the gate. He tried to ask Oberweis about the complaint filed against his dairy company for employing illegal immigrants.
Just one problem for Mr. Brady. No such complaint was ever filed against Oberweis – because no illegal aliens were if fact working for Oberweis’ company. Brady was attempting to still get mileage from one of the first dirty tricks of the campaign – one that Oberweis quickly exposed as a set-up months ago. In fact the story provided material for one of the very first installments of the Topinka Tattler.
Later in Thursday night’s debate, each candidate was asked to state the kind of school his children attended – public or private. Brady and Gidwtz both talked about sending their kids to private school. When it was Oberweis’ turn he went through all five of his kids, and mentioned that one had attended both private and public schools. It was a very reasonable, matter-of-fact discussion about personal family decisions.
But Brady just had to interject something to the effect of “see, it’s more of the back-and-forth.” One could hear the small crowd in the studio gasping at Brady’s childishness. Maybe Topinka’s camp told Brady he hasn’t been working hard enough to smear the one conservative who can realistically beat Judy. But who knows why this guy acts the way he does.
If Mr. Brady wants to keep behaving so immature, we suggest he go Spring Breaking down in Florida. He’s apparently already got his Porsche with the Illinois State Legislator plates down there waiting for him. We suspect Brady himself would probably prefer being down there right now. And we know Illinois Republicans would be better-off.
Grow up Bill
We obviously don’t mind some rough-and-tumble in a campaign. As they say, politics ain’t bean-bag – especially in Illinois. We’re obviously tough in this publication on our elected officials – because they work for all of us. But you also don’t see us out there preaching this hypocritical 11th Commandment stuff.
What’s truly annoying is the wimpy, hypocritical game Brady’s been playing. Isn’t everyone sick and tired of the preaching about the sins of being negative and “attacking other Republicans” – only to have Brady turn around sometimes just minutes later and be one of the nastiest guys out there?
If we wanted a pretty-boy weasel for Governor – we could just keep the one we’ve got.
Brady has constantly tried to smear Oberweis as a “flip-flopper.” But meanwhile this Brady guy goes back-and-forth from “good cop” to “bad cop” like a tennis ball.
This has been a common theme in this campaign. Topinka, Sell-Out Joe Birkett, Andy McKenna, Jr., and Jim Edgar have also been playing the same cynical game all year – “let me read you the 11th Commandment - while I shove this knife in your back.”
Brady can deny that he’s a spoiler and in cahoots with Topinka all he wants. It’s just funny how Brady’s using Topinka’s play-book.
Brady, Topinka and Sell-Out Joe are all the same kind of dishonest hypocrites. They all recoil and get nasty at the thought of any honest debate over what they’ve done while on a public payroll.
But they have no problem just making things up about Jim Oberweis.
Throwing Stones in a Glass House
We’ve been meaning to take Brady to task again ever since he slandered the sponsor of this publication, the Family Taxpayers Network (FTN), in a previous debate. Brady was trying to take yet another cheap shot at Oberweis and made the outrageous comment that one of Oberweis’ contributors (meaning FTN) was a “deadbeat in the eyes of the Board of Elections.”
First, the Board of Elections certainly never said such a thing. FTN was in settlement negotiations with the State over some technical fines relating to some inadvertent filing delays – and the reports in question only related to contributions FTN’s President made to his own organization in the first place. That technical matter has been completely resolved. But it was unbelievably reckless and reprehensible for a public official like Brady to try and turn good-faith settlement negotiations involving private citizens into a political football.
More incredibly, Brady fails to mention that on June 8, 2004, the Federal Election Commission administratively terminated one of his campaign committees – the one from his 2000 failed race for Congress. Brady is proposing Federal election type rules for Illinois – but yet he apparently had trouble complying with the Federal reporting obligations after his Federal campaign ended. So the FEC eventually just terminated Brady’s Federal committee on its own.
So despite Brady’s real reporting problems – he still tried to smear Oberweis and FTN – about a matter he knew nothing about.
By the way, that 2000 losing race for Congress was the one where Brady got a lot of criticism for having allowed others to cast votes for him when he was absent while serving in the State House. The Chicago Tribune recently quoted Brady saying he “made a mistake in failing to tell people he'd be gone all day and that he didn't intend for others to cast his votes.”
Maybe he was driving his Porsche down in Florida.
After tonight's West Wing, Berkowitz and Oberweis join Roeser on Radio - Jeff Berkowitz
Jeff Berkowitz will join political and business entrepreneur Jim Oberweis as a guest tonight on Tom Roeser’s Political Shoot-out, WLS 890 AM Radio, from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Oberweis is in the fight of his life to overcome the Combine forces, in the form of Kjellander, Topinka, Edgar and Brady, to become the Republican nominee for Governor. Oddly, the one guy who could maybe bail the slimmed down Oberweis' fat out of the fire is Ron Gidwitz, businessman and now a bona fide reformer. Gidwitz would become a hero to conservatives by dropping out and trying to transfer his votes to Oberweis. Would Ron Gidwitz, the guy who was a 250 to 1 long shot last July to win the nomination and who still is an Establishment Civic Leader,break with his past and do it? Perhaps Gidwitz should stop by the Roeser show tonight and Tom could broker the deal right there. How's that for a Conservative Summit? It sure as Hell would make news. For those who find West Wing a little too Left Wing for their tastes to keep up with it, it airs on NBC-5 in the Chicago Metro area from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm tonight and every Sunday night. Upset with something Berkowitz said on his show, Public Affairs? Something he wrote on this blog?—Tom Roeser’s show on Sunday night is your chance to fire back. A free fire zone, so to speak. Also, you can help shape the show by calling in with your questions and comments—312-591-8900. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Communists [no collect calls, please] and others are, of course, all welcome. If you can’t get the program on your radio, you can listen on the web [Go here]. I don’t know the topics—they are determined by Mr. Roeser, with some incisive suggestions, no doubt, by his wife Lillian. However, an educated guess is that the questions will consist of various permutations and combinations about the Gubernatorial primaries, General Election and perhaps the hot Republican Primaries in the 8th and 17th Cong. Districts and hot Democratic Primary in the 6th and 3rd Cong. Districts, possibly selected from the following questions, some of which are holdovers from whatI suggested in this blog before I was on the show in January. Of course, you can call and ask any of the below questions or whatever you like. As with University of Chicago Ph. D. prelim questions in economics over the years, most of the questions on Political Shoot-out stay the same each week, only the answers change. And you are Free to Choose, so to speak:• Did Jim Oberweis win the last Republican Guv. Debate this week on WTTW?• Should Gidwitz drop out now, endorse Oberweis and become a hero to reformers?• In other words, does Gidwitz now help Judy, if he stays in, much more than Jim?--Will the liberals stay home if the choice is Rod v. Jim? Or will they lobby harder for an assisted suicide law? • Has Joe helped Judy one iota? Can he?• Has Steve helped Ron one iota? Can he?• If Ron drops out, would Steve be a Zen-like candidate for Lt. Gov.?• Has Steve been a completely unused resource by the Gidburger campaign? If so, why did Ron do that? • Is Brady a "cooperating Combine," player, or an "unwitting dupe."?• What was Edwin Eisendrath thinking? Was he? • Did Rod throw the Jews under the bus? If so, who is next to follow Mell and the Jews? • Why have Hamos and Ronen been silent on Sister Muhammad and the anti-Semitic and anti- Gay views of Minister Farrakhan that Sister Muhammad has declined to repudiate. • Why did Eisendrath embark on a a fool’s errand? Was he betting on Patrick Fitzgerald? • Will Becky Carroll call in on Roeser to defend her boss? • Is Equality Illinois' Rick Garcia a toady of Governor Blagojevich?• If Brady helps Judy, does that help Brady? Is that question Zen-like? • Can Jim Oberweis get out enough of his base to win, even with Brady doing well downstate?• Has Pat O’Malley moved to Florida? • Will the conservatives stay home if the choice is Judy v. Rod? Or will they lobby for an assisted suicide law? • Is Stroger’s goose cooked? Or, will the sympathy vote save him? - How is Carol Marin working out as the latest addition to Chicago Tonight's fair and balanced hosts? interviewers? contributors? whatever? • Is Cook County ready for Reform? For Claypool?• Does Claypool v. Stroger come down to race? See Obama's role as Switzerland. • Could Republican Cook County Board Member and County Board President Candidate Tony Peraica beat Stroger if Claypool can't? • Will Alexi beat Mangieri on the strength of Obama's muscular ads? • Is abortion a significant issue in the State Treasurer’s race? • Did the Governor’s All Kids health insurance legislation cement his re-nomination and re-election? If not, will passing a capital improvements state budget cement Rod’s re-election. Can he do so? • Does Tom Roeser still think the Republican activists should let RNC member Bob Kjellander be?• Is Senator Obama a likely VP pick in 2008? A possible candidate for President, notwithstanding his statements on Russert to the contrary? • Is Eisendrath beating Rod, like a drum, on the issue of reform?• Did Edwin Eisendrath get anything out of "Dreaming the impossible Dream?"• Who raised, last summer, one million dollars, in one evening, for their school voucher- school choice foundation?• Will Dick Kay really retire in July? • Is John Kelly another Dan Lipinski plant in the 3rd CD to drain votes from Dan Lipinski's Dem. Challenger, prosecutor John Sullivan? Could the plant win, as did the Dem. State Rep. in Cicero? • Is Cong. Bean vulnerable in the 8th CD?• Did Rahm Emanuel find a stronger opponent [Maj. L. Tammy Duckworth] for Sen. Peter Roskam than Christine Cegelis or Lindy Scott in the 6th CD General Election? Or will Rahm have his first big loss? • Is Roskam worried about Major Tammy Duckworth, who has the Support of Senators Obama and Durbin, as well as Emanuel and Axelrod? Is Roskam just plain worried? • Is Sen. Obama’s Halo tarnished with Alexi's apparent Bank ties to crime figures? • Is Roskam still doing a Rose Garden Strategy?• Can Cong. Kirk be beat in the 10th CD?• Who will win the 10th CD Dem. Primary? Zane Smith? Dan Seals? • Can Cong. Evans be beat in the 17th CD?• Will Zinga win her 17th CD R primary? • Has Daley turned the corruption eruptions around? • How is Bob Sirott working out at as a weekend anchor at NBC- 5 News ? 500K? 300K? 200 K? Inquiring minds want to know.• And, of course, much, much more.
Sunday Funnies: The Polka Kiss—Topinka and George Ryan? Brady as Eddie Haskell?
A Judy Baar Topinka presser from 10 days ago [Go here to watch][You may have to "drag the round ball," instead of click the play button to get video podcast going], when Leader Cross, who never is, cross—except maybe when he runs into a tough questioner from the media-- watch him, he doesn’t smile so much when he gets tough questions; Bob Biggins, a conservative State Rep?; Roger Eddy, a conservative downstate Rep.? and other state reps. came out of the closet and endorsed Judy Baar Topinka to be the Republican Nominee for Governor. State Rep. Skip Saviano was there with a non-speaking role to endorse, but some of his more cynical critics would say that Skip was there to kick off the Dems for Judy campaign. Speaking of Dems, will former Cong. Bill Lipinski pay off a more than decade old debt and reciprocate by endorsing Judy? If so, Jim Nolepa probably will not be close behind. No dual endorsement from Bill and Jim to match Judy's dual endorsement of Bill and Jim in '94. Of course, none of these endorsements was a big surprise. You kind of knew Cross was with Judy, all the way, so to speak. Minutes after Jim Edgar, with tears in his eyes at the Union League Club "Last Edgar Picture Show with Brenda," said he wouldn’t run, Leader Cross was saying nice things to me about Judy, but he said he wasn’t ready to endorse anyone AT THAT TIME. [BTW, Eric Robinson was prepping Edgar then and Topinka now; as the French say, the more things change, the more they stay the same: Getting ready for the third Jim Edgar term—the Netsch to Edgar to Topinka to Brady Tax Swap? Almost as pleasing to the ear to Combine baseball fans, as Tinkers to Evers to Chance to $] As to Rep. Roger Eddy, his was a name thrown around as a Lt. Gov. running mate for Jude [as well, I might add, as a name to replace Jack Ryan when he withdrew in 2004 as the Republican Senate Candidate—small world, huh?]. And, as a long time public school administrator, I think it is safe to say Roger Eddy, like his fellow downstater Bill Brady, is no fan of school vouchers. Conservative Roger Eddy and Bill Brady? Not on education, that’s for sure. Biggins? Well, he said he was won over by what a tough questioner Judy was in the State legislature on audits, or something like that. I wonder what Judy’s former Campaign honcho and Deputy Treasurer Marty Kovarik would have to say about that. I am guessing Biggins didn’t talk to Marty before offering his endorsement. Further, when it came to supping and sipping from George Ryan’s Illinois First trough, Rep. Biggins was not shy [See here]. Watch Judy [See here] respond with kissers at the presser. As Rep. Biggins points out, they never got that from Jim Edgar. Maybe next time around, Bob. When I asked Judy if she would welcome George Ryan’s endorsement, Jude dodged that only to be asked by WLS’ Bill Cameron if she would kiss him if he did [endorse her]? Now, why didn’t I think of that? Watch Judy deal with questions re money for her from the infamous McCook SOS facility. She looked and she looked, but no records of such. Watch Judy say I like Bill! Sen. Bill Brady, that is. Brady is viewed by some as the Eddie Haskell [as in Leave it to Beaver] of the gubernatorial candidate field. WLS Radio personality Teri O’Brien has been very fond of using “Eddie Haskell,” to describe Senator Durbin, suggesting she thinks Durbin pretends to be nice to and bi-partisan with Republicans, only to stab them in the back, when given the opportunity. Similarly, some would suggest, is the behavior of smiley and boyish good looks State Sen. and Republican Primary guv candidate Bill Brady [Bloomington]. Sen. Brady, of the downstate Brady Bunch, has his own Eddie Haskell twist. Brady talks about running a positive campaign and signing on to State GOP Chairman's Andy McKenna “non-compete clause.” Brady then uses both as his justification for not criticizing any Republicans and in particular for not criticizing Illinois’ RNC Kjellander and his mentee Judy Baar Topinka [and then throwing Kjellander under the bus when it seemed like the right thing to do to placate the Tribune edit board]. However, Brady did it in a way that you got the impression it was with the understanding, if not approval, of Bob Kjellander and his friend, Jim Edgar. And, quite inconsistently, Brady has no problems with criticizing Oberweis, as when he asked Oberweis about his “case,” at Thursday night’s WTTW debate, referring to the phony smear that accused Oberweis’ Company of hiring illegal immigrants, when a cursory investigation by Brady of the reported facts would have revealed that it was a contractor, not Oberweis, who had the responsibility and even as to the contractor, it was a bogus charge that was never pursued. Brady’s defense for his bizarre statements? He had none; he just flashed his Eddie Haskell smile, and said, “Golly gee, I just know what I read in the newspapers.” Then, Mr. Bill looked around for Wally, so they could get out of there before Ward Cleaver got home. This is the guy that Family Pac’s Paul Caprio [who once did work for the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation- School Vouchers, anyone?] and Illinois Review’s Fran Eaton want to see as Governor? Eddie Haskell for Governor? Looks to me like Eddie might need a little more work. Of course, Judy Baar’s “I like Bill,” and her quasi-endorsement of Mr. Bill’s Campaign at the League of Women Voters debate only serves to fuel those nasty rumors about Sen. Bill Brady being supported by the Combine in its effort to drain votes from Oberweis and prevent him from taking hold downstate. Back to the Presser with Judy, watch the AP’s Chris Hill pound away at all sorts of things. This guy Hill makes me look like a piker when it comes to tough questions. We should watch this guy more often. Watch IRN’s Jim Anderson ask Judy if her endorsement by the legislative establishment means she is an insider? Good question, Jim. Watch Leader Cross deal with my question about his potential discomfort of endorsing Judy even though she, unlike Rep. Tom Cross and candidates Oberweis, Gidwitz and Brady, declines to ask her friend and ally [when she was State GOP Chair, and perhaps before and after] the much maligned Kjellander to step down as Illinois’ RNC Honcho. Watch Judy deal generally with the issue of whether she is hiding from her opponents and trying to “back into,” the Governor’s chair by “backing out of the WTTW debate,” as the AP’s Chris Hill put it [and not attending the AP Guv candidate discussion on the morning of the Topinka Presser] And, watch Topinka Campaign Manager Barnich make a rare, cameo “on air,” performance to try to “clarify,’ whether Topinka is backing out of debates. And, watch Hill try to extend the scope of Barnich’s discussion. I am telling you, this guy Hill is one tough dude. You can see all of the above, and much, much more, by going to the Judy Baar Topinka March 9, 2006 Presser, [Watch here]. Yet another “Public Affairs,” exclusive.
The Channel 11 Gubernatorial Debate: Topinka Wasn’t Missed
The WTTW-TV - City Club of Chicago debate Thursday night featured a lively exchange between Jim Oberweis, Bill Brady and Ron Gidwitz. What struck me was two things: having watched governors of two states for over 50 years, it was clear that any one of the three could make a powerful impression as governor. My choice is Jim Oberweis who I believe won the debate with the rejoinder to a carping Bill Brady. Brady for some unaccountable reason feels he can get conservative votes by blistering fellow conservative Oberweis. He tried to recycle the old bogus game played by some Hispanic activists who tried to set up Oberweis as an employer of illegals by shuffling a person onto a temporary clean-up consultant business and insist that Oberweis hired him. Brady quoted the case again which was answered completely by Oberweis. Brady then responded that all he knows is what he reads in the newspapers whereupon Oberweis slugged the answer out of the park by saying that if his knowledge is limited to newspaper reading, he doesn’t belong running for governor. A very effective response which elicited a laugh and applause by the studio audience which wasn’t particularly pro-Oberweis. It is significant that with the exception of the Sun-Times most newspapers decided not to report the statement, concentrating instead on defending Brady’s voting record that was slammed by Oberweis. There is no doubt that the Oberweis animus is due to his strong pro-life stand and his support of traditional family values. Mainstream media prefer Topinka overwhelmingly for the GOP nomination, after which they will bargain between Blagojevich and her, hoping to ratchet up the increasingly liberal bargaining, holding their endorsements as bait. But failing Topinka, they prefer Brady, spurred by his attacks on Oberweis. Normally they would prefer Gidwitz but he hasn’t been as vocal in assailing Oberweis as Brady. Why Brady thinks he will get conservative votes by blistering Oberweis and going easy on Topinka is a real mystery but he does. As of today, the race is still wide open, I believe. Polls don’t tell the whole story in primaries-the ground game does. I believe Oberweis has the ground game, the people engaged round-the-clock in getting voters to the polls. Political organization doesn’t show up in polls but on election day. If Oberweis wins the nomination, look for a wholesale media assault on him reminiscent of the attacks on Barry Goldwater in 1964. Remember, the stakes involve something in addition to the governorship: the leadership of the Illinois Republican party. I’m usually not an all-for-nothing guy, but the nomination of Topinka will spell the continuance of the Jim Thompson organization and no choice whatsoever for conservatives. Ideally, Jim Oberweis will get the nomination and the governorship. Second to that is that even if he fails to win the governorship through the attacks by the mainstream media, he controls the party for the future. I can think of nothing worse for conservatives than a state where the two-party system is closed to them. Topinka’s famous derogatory name-calling of conservatives and her rejection of her opponents as “morons” (before she came to her senses) underscores this election’s importance.
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
"The list of Topinka's biggest donors reinforces the notion that she is the favorite among the GOP party establishment. Major Topinka donations lately have flowed in from business and industry groups, labor unions and Republican Party elders. Gov. Jim Edgar gave $25,000 on Wednesday, records show. U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Peoria, gave more than $19,000 the same day. The medical industry gave more than $100,000 earlier this month. The records show what critics say is a disturbing willingness by Topinka to accept contributions from banking and investment entities that could be affected by her decisions in her current job as state treasurer. The analysis found tens of thousands of dollars of such contributions to her since Jan. 1."http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/illinoisstatenews/story/086582383D99A40F862571350073293A?OpenDocument
Topinka is cashing in - Kevin McDermott Judy Baar Topinka, the only nonmillionaire among the major Republican candidates going into Tuesday's hotly contested GOP primary election for governor, likes to joke that her campaign fundraising apparatus is a "little tin cup" compared to her wealthy opponents.But in the past few weeks, Topinka's cup runneth over.A Post-Dispatch analysis of campaign records last week found that, in the final stretch of fundraising prior to the election, Topinka is trouncing the other four GOP candidates in terms of external financial support, raising more than $1 million in the past 10 weeks.The GOP race highlights Tuesday's ballot. Also on the ballot in the Metro East: primary races for U.S. representative, an appellate judgeship and county board seats in Madison and St. Clair counties, and several school tax increases.The list of Topinka's biggest donors reinforces the notion that she is the favorite among the GOP party establishment. Major Topinka donations lately have flowed in from business and industry groups, labor unions and Republican Party elders. Gov. Jim Edgar gave $25,000 on Wednesday, records show. U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Peoria, gave more than $19,000 the same day. The medical industry gave more than $100,000 earlier this month.The records show what critics say is a disturbing willingness by Topinka to accept contributions from banking and investment entities that could be affected by her decisions in her current job as state treasurer. The analysis found tens of thousands of dollars of such contributions to her since Jan. 1.The other three major GOP candidates during that same period raised, between them, a total of about $1.25 million from outside sources. At the same time, all three extended major personal loans to their own campaigns - never a good sign in the final weeks before an election.The late, big donations, experts say, are often a key indication of what the biggest players in politics are betting is going to happen when the polls open."It's particularly reflective of the bases of support of the candidates," said Kent Redfield, political scientist and expert on campaign issues at the University of Illinois at Springfield. At the same time, he said, "People like to give money to winners . . . (so) they will be on record as having helped" if that candidate becomes governor.The latest campaign records show:Dairy owner Jim Oberweis, courting the hard-right and running second to Topinka in most polls, has raised about $312,000 in outside donations since Jan. 1 - $100,000 of it in one donation, recorded Tuesday, from Chicago-area conservative activist Jack Roeser. In addition, Oberweis has lent his own campaign $1.3 million this year ($400,000 of it on Tuesday), and also donated a $462,000 investment from Oberweis Securities, the investment firm he founded.Former Helene Curtis cosmetics CEO Ron Gidwitz, who spent more than $5 million in the last half of 2005, much of it from his own pocket, has raised about $756,000 in outside donations since Jan. 1. He has personally lent his campaign another $3.3 million during that time. In addition, he donated $500,000 of his own money to the campaign on March 10.State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, whose family fortune was built on real estate development, has raised $183,960 in outside money since Jan. 1. He has lent his campaign another $100,000 under his own name this year. Records show an additional $450,000 in loans from three Bloomington banks.By loaning money to one's own campaign - as opposed to donating it - the candidates can repay themselves with contributions collected by their campaign committees.Topinka, talking with Post-Dispatch editors earlier this month, defended her decision not to reject donations from banking and investment groups. She noted three of her primary opponents are millionaires, and that if she wins the GOP nomination on Tuesday, she will face "a tsunami of money" from Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich in the general election campaign."There has to be some room in here for some fundraising," Topinka said at that time. "How (else) can I compete?"A fifth candidate, Chicago resident Andy Martin, had $442.62 on hand as of Jan. 1, records show. Details of his fundraising since then weren't immediately available on Friday.
Gubernatorial campaign: The issues - Staff reporters
http://www.suntimes.com/output/elect/gov19.html (includes a full-page spreadsheet with photos)
With the primary election just days away, it's crunch time.
Still confused when it comes to knowing where candidates stand on the issues? Then click here to view a side-by-side chart that compares and contrasts where candidates stand on taxes and abortion -- and everything in between.
View "Breaking Down the Issues" graphic »
GOP governor primary: What if jury delivers verdict on former Gov. Ryan on Monday. ``Not a deal breaker,'' said Topinka - Lynn Sweet
Just what happens in the GOP primary, I wondered when I interviewed Judy Baar Topinka at the Elmhurst St. Patrick's Day parade in Saturday, if the jury deciding the fate of former Gov. George Ryan comes in on Monday with a verdict…and the former governor is guilty.
complete item starts hereI parked at York High School in Elmhurst and headed toward Spring Road on Saturday.I wanted to catch the 6th congressional district candidates at the big St. Patrick’s Day parade in the suburb. That’s Christine Cegelis, Tammy Duckworth and Lindy Scott for the Democrats and Peter Roskam, who has the GOP nomination clinched.I’ve been writing a lot about this House contest and how it has divided Democrats and wanted to check in with the campaigns before Tuesday’s primary vote.And as a bonus, I was expecting to see at least three of the Republicans running for governor.I asked a parade official for directions. I got steered the right way and picked up an interesting aside on Democratic politics in the 6th from Steve Nelms, 38, a plasterer from Addison.To recap for casual visitors to the blog: Duckworth, is the wounded Iraq war vet; Cegelis, the 2004 nominee and Scott, the college professor. Nelms voted for Cegelis in 2004. Now he said he is a volunteer for Duckworth.``We have three great candidates. All worthy of this spot,’’ he said.He has not seen his fellow suburban Democrats this excited for years. Not since, he said, William Redmond, the Bensenville Democrat who was the speaker of the Illinois House in the mid 1970s. ``Honestly,’’ said Nelms, ``it’s invigorating.’’*******************************************************Just what happens to the GOP primary, I wondered when I interviewed Judy Baar Topinka at the parade, if the George Ryan jury comes in on Monday with a verdict…and the former governor is guilty.Will it hurt her?Replied Topinka, `` I think everybody is kind on their own. I don’t think people associate me with that anymore.. I don’t think anybody feels good about it. It certainly does not add to the picture. But it’s there and we deal with it. I don’t think it is a deal breaker.’’
Jim Oberweis was handing out two-for-one coupons on the parade route, good at his namesake ice cream stores.``This race is clearly between Judy Topinka and myself…..(Bill Brady) `` is trying to take some of the conservative vote away from me.’’Oberweis is finishing up hitting on Topinka. ``She is not likely to be able to reform politics in Illinois and I believe I can bring dramatic change to the way things have been done in Illinois.’’
Ron Gidwitz is going to be spending the remaining hours of the campaign focused on suburban Cook and the collar counties, while his rivals, including Bill Brady who skipped Elmhurst, head Downstate.``I think the good thing is that Brady and Oberweis are splitting that conservative vote, that ultra conservative vote…and the moderately conservatives are going to be voting for me.’’How, I asked, can he distinguish himself from Topinka. ``That’s very easy. She is way on the left hand side of the road. And she’s hidden.’’ Topinka has been avoiding some events where she figures she will be just be beat up by the three men she is running against.Not Saturday. She was just down the block, waiting for the parade to start.
GOP's Roskam 'ready' to take on winner of Dem slugfest in 6th Dist. - Lynn Sweet
For these past months, GOP House hopeful Peter Roskam has been shadowboxing. "I'm ready," said Roskam, a state senator, as he headed a contingent in Saturday's annual Elmhurst St. Patrick's Day parade along lovely Spring Road.
The west suburb is in the heart of the 6th Congressional District, which until the decision of conservative icon Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) to retire was not seen as worth much Democratic attention.
Now, an unusually divisive three-way Democratic primary that has drawn national attention will be decided in Tuesday's balloting. Between 25,000 and 36,000 Democratic voters in GOP strongholds will determine the winner.
"It's nice to have a united party coming out of the primary season," said Roskam, who faced no Republican primary opponent.
His seemingly innocuous comment was a dig at the Democratic infighting.
"Any time there is a fight, there is some sort of self-inflicted injury," said Roskam, from Wheaton.
The three Democratic rivals, Tammy Duckworth, Christine Cegelis and Lindy Scott, just yards apart, led their own groups in the parade. They all pledge to support the primary winner.
Duckworth, the Iraq war vet from Hoffman Estates who lost her legs when her helicopter was shot down, darted around the route in a power-assisted wheelchair, with one prosthetic leg casually crossed over the other.
"People really want a comprehensive campaign that can beat Pete Roskam in November, and that's what this is about," said Duckworth.
Duckworth launched her first bid for office in December under the powerful sponsorship of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), who runs the House political operation, and to a lesser degree Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).
Her amply funded campaign has relied heavily on direct mail and a television spot featuring Obama on cable outlets.
People who reliably pull a Democratic ballot received up to 11 pieces from the Duckworth campaign in recent weeks.
Duckworth spent much of the last week campaigning among seniors.
She hopes to win with a coalition of votes from labor, seniors and veterans, the targets of four mail pieces.
Draws national interest
For Cegelis, the 2004 nominee from Rolling Meadows, the story is ending as it began -- that she is waging a ground and Internet battle that is not dependent on outspending her opposition.
"We'll turn out the base," said campaign manager Kevin Spidel, looking to Elk Grove and Hanover townships, where she did the best in 2004. They also have Election Day operations, Spidel said, in 312 of the more than 500 precincts in the district.
Duckworth's entry -- with her dramatic Iraq story as well as Washington backing -- created a backlash locally but drew national interest in the race that would not have otherwise existed.
"And that will strengthen our ability to compete in the fall," Cegelis said.
Scott, a college professor from Wheaton, is depending on what he calls "Evangelicals and pro-life Catholics" as well as Hispanics to get him over the line.
He said the backlash against Duckworth's national sponsors will take time to heal.
"If Christine or I win, it will say to the national party, 'You can't ignore the locals.' "
GOP governor hopefuls Ron Gidwitz, Judy Baar Topinka and Jim Oberweis were at the parade. Find out what they had to say in my blog at http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/
Veteran state senator Geo-Karis faces fight of her political life - Dave McKinney
SPRINGFIELD -- It is true, as a rival's mailer suggests, that Sen. Adeline Jay Geo-Karis was first elected to the Statehouse when President Nixon was in the White House and nearly 40 percent of Lake County's current residents hadn't been born.
Whether these facts prove the Zion Republican has been in office too long or merely heighten her status as matron of the state Senate won't be known until after Tuesday's primary, when 30 contested legislative races in the Chicago area will be decided.
Geo-Karis, the longest-serving current senator, is in the fight of her political life. She was elected to the Illinois House in 1972, moved to the Senate seven years later and has represented northeastern Lake County throughout her tenure.
"I welcome competition," said Geo-Karis, who turns 88 this month. "I'm a fighter."
Geo-Karis is facing a strong challenge from Warren Township Supervisor Suzanne Simpson, of Grayslake. Geo-Karis groomed Simpson as an heir apparent but Simpson refused to step aside after the veteran lawmaker reneged on her planned retirement.
Geo-Karis' mind is sharp, but her physical condition is frail. She is attached to bottled oxygen, has relied on a motorized scooter to get around and was hospitalized for a week this month with the flu -- conditions downplayed by Geo-Karis, who insists she feels good.
"My premise is that after 34 years, you become part of government instead of protecting your constituents from government," said Simpson, who has promised to bring "new energy" to the district.
Simpson, 51, is backed by a significant chunk of the GOP establishment, which doesn't want to see another long-serving Republican such as former U.S. Rep. Phil Crane stay in office too long and lose to a Democrat as Crane did to Melissa Bean in 2004.
Simpson, who served part of a term in the Illinois House, is supported by Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson (R-Greenville); Sen. William Peterson (R-Long Grove); Sen. Christine Radogno (R-LaGrange), and Rep. JoAnn Osmond (R-Antioch), chairwoman of the Lake County GOP organization.
Watson said he and other Republicans threw their support to Simpson after Geo-Karis indicated last spring she was prepared to retire and after Senate GOP polling showed Geo-Karis could be vulnerable to Democrats this fall.
"It's distasteful for us to be in this kind of position when I think Adeline has served so well and for so long, but there does come a time . . . when we need to take a look at something else," Watson said.
Elsewhere, six-term state Rep. Calvin Giles (D-Chicago) is in a tough race with Chicago real estate broker LaShawn Ford for a House seat representing the West Side and parts of Oak Park, Forest Park, North Riverside and Riverside. Giles racked up $144,000 in election fines but negotiated his debt downward in January to remain on the primary ballot. Ford thinks that issue and the district's poorly performing schools make Giles vulnerable, but Giles thinks he has been a strong advocate for his district.
In Cicero, Berwyn and part of the Southwest Side, first-term Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago) is battling Eduardo Garza in a race that has focused on Sandoval's membership in the discredited Hispanic Democratic Organization, a once-powerful machine now under federal investigation. Sandoval has denied being an HDO leader.
Also in Cicero and Berwyn, first-term Rep. Michelle Chavez faces a tough re-election battle against Roberto Garcia and her 2004 primary nemesis, Lisa Hernandez. Chavez fended off Hernandez last time and unseated Rep. Frank Aguilar (R-Cicero) despite not campaigning, fueling speculation she was an Aguilar plant, which Chavez denies.
And in a race pitting two powerful south suburban political families, three-term Rep. David Miller (D-Dolton) faces former Chicago Ald. Robert Shaw, of South Holland. Miller is allied with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a longtime rival of Shaw and his twin brother William, a former state senator.
DIERSEN'S HEADLINE: Oberweis runs TV ads that stress Topinka's close ties to the combine's hero George Ryan
Can Topinka afford to win? Wealthy GOP challengers say ‘no’ - AP
Two wealthy GOP gubernatorial candidates said Saturday that coming up with enough money to take on well-funded Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich might be a problem for front-runner Judy Baar Topinka — but not for them.
Chicago businessman Ron Gidwitz said the Republican nominee will have to come up with money to counter what likely will be an early attack by Blagojevich, who has about $15 million in his campaign fund.
Gidwitz says that could be tough for Topinka, the state treasurer who polls show is leading the GOP primary.
“The guy that’s got the money is going to define the candidate before he or she can define themselves,” Gidwitz said at a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Elmhurst. “Judy won’t have any money.”
Gidwitz and Sugar Grove dairy magnate Jim Oberweis, who each has spent millions on their campaigns, say coming up with money isn’t a problem.
“Money may be one of the challenges that she will have. I don’t think that will be my biggest challenge,” Oberweis said.
Topinka spokesman Roger Germann called it “hogwash” to suggest Topinka would not have enough money to battle Blagojevich.
“Will Rod Blagojevich have lots of money? Absolutely. Will we be able to match him? Probably not. That being said, Treasurer Topinka has been elected statewide three times,” Germann said.
Germann said the campaign expects money to come in after the primary, including from the Republican National Committee. “She will definitely raise the money necessary to be successful in November,” he said.
In a final push for voters, the Oberweis campaign began airing a TV commercial that makes the most direct connection yet between Topinka and former Gov. George Ryan, who is awaiting the jury’s verdict in his federal racketeering trial.
The commercial shows Topinka and Ryan dancing, saying he taught her “the pay-to-play polka.” Topinka has been criticized for accepting campaign contributions from banks that do business with her state treasurer’s office, but she has never been accused of any wrongdoing.
Oberweis campaign manager Joe Wiegand said the campaign was spending about $200,000 to air the commercial.
Germann called Oberweis’ latest ad a “desperate attempt by a campaign that is losing ground quickly.” And dancing with Ryan hardly means the two were close, he said.
“Who hasn’t she polka’d with? She polkas with everyone. The polka is a fun dance,” he said.
On Saturday, the candidates for governor crisscrossed Illinois as they tried to round up votes for Tuesday’s election.
Topinka, Gidwitz and Oberweis concentrated on their base of support at the parade in Elmhurst. Republican state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington toured downstate.
Blagojevich spoke at an anti-violence rally on Chicago’s South Side. He’s called on state lawmakers to approve an assault weapons ban.
His Democratic challenger, Edwin Eisendrath, campaigned at a North Side bingo rally sponsored by Blagojevich’s father-in-law, Chicago Alderman Dick Mell, who has feuded with his son-in-law.
DIERSEN'S HEADLINE: St. Clair praises Birkett for joining Topinka and Rauschenberger for joining Gidwitz, but she fails to blast Brady for not joining Oberweis
Hopefuls making political marriages work - Stacy St. ClairThey were arranged marriages from the start.
They weren’t about love, honor or even common belief systems. The unions between Republican governor candidates and their respective running mates were business decisions, plain and simple.
Over the last few months, however, two GOP gubernatorial hopefuls have found ways to make their ideologically mixed partnerships work.
Judy Baar Topinka and running mate Joe Birkett realized a genuine affection for one another. Ron Gidwitz, meanwhile, has enjoyed a largely long-distance relationship with Steve Rauschenberger.
The relationships have survived because, like many marriages, one partner willingly sacrificed his own dreams to help his mate. In this case, both lieutenant governor candidates shelved their own dreams of leading Illinois for a lesser, often ineffectual role in state politics.
“Anyone who would run (for lieutenant governor) would have to understand they’re not always first,” relationship expert Sylvia Friedman said. “Somebody else is the star. That can be a hard thing to get used to for a lot of politicians.”
Both Birkett and Rauschenberger made no secret of their desire to be governor. Each man abandoned early bids, however, after struggling to raise money in a crowded field.
That’s when the suitors came calling.
Gidwitz, a millionaire businessman from Chicago, asked Rauschenberger to be his running mate in December. A week later, Topinka proposed to Birkett.
The other two candidates for the Republican governor nomination are going it alone. Dairy owner Jim Oberweis propositioned opponent Bill Brady, but the state senator from Bloomington turned him down. Lieutenant governor hopeful Sandy Wegman is also running a solo campaign.
Political experts doubt the oh-so-civil unions will have any impact in the race.
“It doesn’t make a bit of difference,” DePaul University professor Bruce Newman said. “It’s even less important as the vice president. They (lieutenant governor candidates) don’t play a role in people’s minds.”
The Gidwitz-Rauschenberger pairing, though, gave both men something pundits believed they needed. The moderate Gidwitz had money, while the nearly broke Rauschenberger was seen as having the conservative credentials to help woo primary voters.
Rauschenberger, an Elgin state senator, initially vowed to resign from the race after the primary if he and Topinka both ran, though he moved away from that position in recent weeks.
After the deal was brokered, Gidwitz opened a checking account with Rauschenberger and deposited $500,000. The senator’s brother also got a full-time job on the campaign.
Friedman notes that such perks, however, didn’t come without a price.
Rauschenberger, a longtime legislator who is anti-abortion and opposes civil unions, is now stumping for a businessman who thinks the state should recognize gay partnerships.
“He isn’t in charge anymore,” Friedman said. “Gidwitz is calling the shots.”
Their relationship, however, has been largely a long-distance one because Rauschenberger has spent much of the campaign working in Springfield. The two usually speak by telephone once a day and attend at least one event a week together, campaign communication director Terry Hickey said.
When Gidwitz’s 99-year-old father had a heart attack last week, Rauschenberger was among the first to call his running mate.
“There’s a lot of respect between them,” Hickey said.
Both men love to discuss policy, so they spend a lot of their time together engrossed in wonkish conversation.
“They laugh a lot,” Hickey said. “They’re a really good complement to each other.”
Topinka also was looking for balance when she tapped DuPage County state’s attorney Joe Birkett as her partner. In addition to giving her ticket another recognizable name, Birkett offered a conservative voice to balance Topinka’s largely moderate agenda.
Like Gidwitz, Topinka favors abortion rights and civil unions. And like Gidwitz, her running mate opposes both.
In return for his candidacy, Topinka gave Birkett a chance to run for statewide office and reduce the $700,000 debt he amassed during his failed bid for attorney general four years ago. Her dowry included $100,000, which she recently donated to his warchest.
The pairing initially amused political observers because of their disparate personalities. The polka-loving Topinka, who has served as state treasurer for 12 years, is an outgoing and often brassy.
Birkett, meanwhile, is an uber-serious prosecutor who often speaks in careful tones.
Yet amid their many differences, a respectful partnership has developed. Their ticket works, in part, because they understand each other’s background.
Topinka grew up in Cicero, where Czech was spoken in her family’s home. Birkett, one of nine children, was raised on Chicago’s West Side.
“Both Judy and I come from the neighborhoods,” Birkett said. “Neither one of us have forgotten where we came from.”
The Topinka-Birkett union also works because Birkett has accepted his position as second-fiddle, a rare role for DuPage County’s top law enforcer. Despite their differing opinions on abortion and gay marriage, Birkett espouses Topinka’s views on the campaign trail instead of his personal politics.
“The biggest obstacle in their relationship would be whether he could accept orders that she gives,” Friedman says. “He seems to be trying very hard.”
Birkett’s efforts have included reacting like a pit bull when Topinka is criticized. On several occasions, he has attacked her critics more rabidly than his own.
When opponents challenged her ethics with a series of hard-hitting commercials, Birkett, a former Golden Glove boxer, made it clear he would not stand for it.
“We are running a positive campaign,” he said. “But if they are going to unfairly attack Judy Topinka, I am a boxer. And I have a good counterpunch.”
His allegiance to Topinka runs deeper than his virulent defenses. Birkett demonstrates his loyalty by frequently referring to Topinka and her place as the ticket’s top dog.
At a recent lieutenant governor’s debate, Birkett made a reference to Topinka in every answer he gave. Rauschenberger mentioned Gidwitz only a few times.
“It’s a reflection of how much respect I have for Judy,” Birkett said.
Birkett’s biggest show of affection, however, came on Valentine’s Day. At his wife’s urging, Birkett sent Topinka a dozen red roses with a card he hoped would be prophetic.
“Roses are red, violets are blue,” it read. “Oberweis will lose and Ron will, too.”
Put balance into campaign coverage - Dan Fapp
In following the 6th Congressional District campaign, I’ve been increasingly annoyed by your recent coverage.
Almost daily we’re reading about written candidate responses to a Daily Herald questionnaire. I guess the Daily Herald editors forgot that when I go to vote, we have the option of selecting either a Republican or Democrat ballot, thus all viewpoints of key issues should be presented.
The only person almost guaranteed to be on the November ballot is not part of your process. Meanwhile, we’re reading about far-left Democrat views without any countervailing responses.
Since your coverage on key election issues is based on a questionnaire, would it have been more helpful to the electorate to see and compare the views of these increasing-radical Democrats against those of Republican Peter Roskam to add perspective?
VERY SAD: Anti-war activists rally in downtown Chicago - AP
A procession of several thousand demonstrators, hemmed in by several hundred police in riot gear, marched down Chicago’s Michigan Avenue late Saturday to protest a war in Iraq they say diverts money away from education and health care.
Anti-war activists held similar demonstrations around the world Saturday to mark the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The streets surrounding London’s shopping and theater district were shut down by authorities for a demonstration that police said attracted about 15,000 people, while roughly 2,000 people rallied in a park in Tokyo.
In the Chicago demonstration, many marchers carried placards demanding the U.S. get out of Iraq.
“I’m against this war, I’m against the torture,” Martha Conrad, 54, of Chicago. “We’re doing this for the people of Iraq.”
At least one bystander showed up to express his support for President Bush’s policies in Iraq.
“I support freeing Iraqis from tyranny,” said Ryan Stiles, 33, of Chicago. “I came here to show there are Americans who support what Bush is doing in Iraq.”
In Chicago’s federal plaza, about 150 demonstrators passed out leaflets and listened to speeches. Many held signs calling for the end of the U.S. involvement in Iraq as a group of tuxedo-wearing, mock counter-protesters — calling themselves “Billionaires for Bush” — shouted “wars and occupation, not jobs and education.”
Wearing an olive green T-shirt that expressed opposition to R.O.T.C programs in high schools, 56-year-old volleyball coach Ron Kunde said he was getting a chilly response from most pedestrians he approached with his anti-war fliers.
“Most people just pass me by,” he said. “They don’t wish to make eye contact.”
But rally organizer John Beacham said he is optimistic that opposition to the Iraq war is growing.
“People are tired of the war. They don’t really see any reason for it,” he said. “One thing we know for sure is that the movement will continue to grow. ... People aren’t going to start to agree with the war more. History has shown that things go the other way.”
Virgil Killebrew, a 56-year-old homeless man, came to the rally to try and sell his poetry.
“Some wars are necessary, but I don’t think this war is necessary to continue,” Killebrew said. “So many people could use that money for survival, like me.”
While it is correct that Ms. Topinka is one of the few candidates with a political track record upon which to rate her, this rating does not compliment her judgment of character or state priorities.
VERY SAD: Anti-War Activists Take To The Streets - Rafael Romo
http://cbs2chicago.com/topstories/local_story_077142845.html (includes video clip)
March Draws Strong Police Presence, But No Arrests Are Made
On the eve of the third anniversary of the Iraq invasion, protesters took to the streets in Chicago and around the world in the name of peace.As CBS 2’s Rafael Romo reports, in Chicago, it was a parade, a march and a protest all at the same time, and the message was loud and clear as demonstrators chanted: "No more war!"There were many students and young people, but there were also mothers worried about their children.“I worry about our sons who are going out to war,” said protester Stephanie Frank, “our sons and daughters are going who are being killed over in Iraq and don't want any more sons or daughters to go over to Iraq.”The marchers proceeded south along Michigan Avenue to Wacker Drive, and the event was concluded Daley Plaza. No arrests were reported, although the protesters were surrounded by police officers in riot gear.“It's our patriotic duty to speak up,” said protester Mark Messing. “Seventy-two percent of the troops in Iraq say they want to withdraw, so we're here to support them.”Protest organizers were expecting as many as 10,000 people from across the Chicagoland area, but the number of protesters was much smaller, estimated around 7,000.This was the first time since 2003 that the protest included a march down Michigan Avenue; in the past two years, permits for that roadway were denied. In 2003, several people were arrested after protesters at Michigan and Chicago avenues flooded Lake Shore Drive.Many anti-war activists began the day at federal plaza at Adams and Dearborn streets, where about 150 demonstrators passed out leaflets and listened to speeches. Many of the signs called for an end to United States involvement in Iraq.At the federal plaza rally, wearing an olive green T-shirt that expressed opposition to R.O.T.C programs in high schools, 56-year-old volleyball coach Ron Kunde said he was getting a chilly response from most pedestrians he approached with his anti-war flyers."Most people just pass me by," he said. "They don't wish to make eye contact."But rally organizer John Beacham said he is optimistic that opposition to the Iraq war is growing."People are tired of the war. They don't really see any reason for it," he said. "One thing we know for sure is that the movement will continue to grow. ... People aren't going to start to agree with the war more. History has shown that things go the other way."Virgil Killebrew, a 56-year-old homeless man, came to the rally to try and sell his poetry."Some wars are necessary, but I don't think this war is necessary to continue," Killebrew said. "So many people could use that money for survival, like me."At least one bystander showed up to express his support for President Bush's policies in Iraq."I support freeing Iraqi's from tyranny," said Ryan Stiles, 33, of Chicago. "I came here to show there are American who support what bush is doing in Iraq."The demonstrators at federal plaza later joined marchers from across the city and suburbs at Union Park, at Lake Street and Ashland Avenue. U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) was among the featured speakers there.“This reminds me clearly of Vietnam all over again where everyone kept saying -- let's not withdraw; it will turn into another chaos,” Gutierrez said. “Well, there is chaos and there is civil war.”Vietnam War veteran Barry Romo said, “After Vietnam, and 60,000 lives for an immoral and illegal war, we've now thrown away 2,500 lives in another immoral and illegal war.”One group of mock counter-protesters, calling themselves "Billionaires for Bush," held signs with such slogans as "Warfare, not health care," and chanted, “One, two, three, four, we make money when there’s war; five, six, seven, eight, no-bid contracts are really great."A podium was set up for several public speakers who gave both Spanish and English language anti-war presentations.One protest organizer said, "Today we're the majority, so let the majority be heard."Anti-war activists held similar demonstrations around the world Saturday to mark the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The streets surrounding London's shopping and theater district were shut down by authorities for a demonstration that police said attracted about 15,000 people, while roughly 2,000 people rallied in a park in Tokyo.
BELLEVILLE NEWS DEMOCRAT
Oberweis proposed that he, Ron Gidwitz and Bill Brady draw straws. The losers would drop out and the winner would remain in the race against front-runner Judy Baar Topinka.
Under Oberweis' proposal, presented to his opponents Thursday, he would have had 10 chances to pull the winning straw and the other two would each have gotten one chance, said Oberweis campaign manager Joe Wiegand.
"It just shows the kind of innovative free-market thinking Jim brings in," Wiegand said.
Brady and Gidwitz didn't see it that way.
"How could you take that seriously?" said Brady, a state senator from Bloomington.
Gidwitz spokeswoman Terri Hickey said, "I guess we've entered the silly phase of the campaign."
DIERSEN'S HEADLINE: AP lists major individual donors for Gidwitz and for Oberweis, but not for Brady or for Topinka
Gubernatorial candidates looking for cash in final push to primary election - AP
CHICAGO - Candidates for governor looking for last-minute cash to fuel their campaigns are counting on family, individual supporters, political groups and their own checkbooks to finance their dreams.
On the Republican side, Chicago businessman Ron Gidwitz's campaign has collected more than $1.7 million in the last two weeks, but much of that -- $980,000 -- was a loan from Gidwitz, former head of the Helene Curtis cosmetics company.
Other money came from his family, including $500,000 from Gidwitz's 99-year-old father and $50,000 from his brother, Thomas, according to campaign finance records.
"Ron always knew he was going to have to invest in his own campaign and that's what he's been doing," said Gidwitz spokesman Terri Hickey. He has put about $5 million of his own money into the race.
Gidwitz also got $2,000 from Andrew McKenna, the father of the head of the state Republican Party. Gidwitz recently feuded with the younger McKenna, state GOP Chairman Andy McKenna, over one of his TV ads that criticized challenger Judy Baar Topinka.
Topinka, the state treasurer who polls show is the front-runner in the March 21 primary, pocketed about $165,000 for her campaign in the last two weeks.
Aurora businessman Jim Oberweis lent his campaign $400,000 on Tuesday and picked up another $219,500 in donations. The contributions included $100,000 each from a family-owned manufacturing company in Carpentersville and its founder, John "Jack" Roeser, who also is president of the conservative Family Taxpayers Network.
Roeser said he, the company and his political action committee so far have contributed about $500,000 to Oberweis.
"We feel very strongly about the corruption that's going on in Illinois," said Roeser, who challenged Gov. Jim Edgar in the 1994 primary.
Bill Brady's campaign took out a $100,000 loan on Tuesday and collected more than $31,000 in donations since last week. Brady said he had not anticipated spending between $600,000 to $750,000 of his own money in the race.
The final Republican candidate, Internet journalist Andy Martin, loaned his campaign $75,000 on March 5.
For the Democrats, the already campaign-rich Gov. Rod Blagojevich raked in the most money, collecting about $329,000 since last week. Some of the biggest contributors were the Illinois Hospital Association, whose political action committee kicked in $75,000, and $50,000 from a textile and hotel workers union. Some Democratic political organizations also contributed money.
Blagojevich's lone challenger, Edwin Eisendrath, added $216,000 to his campaign. Most of the money came from him and his father, who each kicked in $100,000.
QUAD CITY TIMES
Republican gubernatorial candidates try to make their cases to voters
Bill Brady doesn’t think small.
He planned on running for governor even before his first campaign for the Illinois House. Now that he’s finally running, Brady insists he can win the Republican nomination despite trailing badly in both name recognition and money.
And once he’s in office, he expects to create 150,000 jobs, engineer a $3 billion turnaround in state finances and overhaul state medical services — all in the first year.
“I see an opportunity,” Brady says. “I want to make the most of the opportunity.”
Those are big promises for a state senator who is little known outside his Bloomington-area district. He has not made a name for himself with any flashy legislation in Springfield. He’s not even a member of the Senate Republican leadership team.
But Brady says he has the right combination of government service and business experience to tackle the state’s problems. And the people who know him, even some of his past political opponents, describe a man with the charisma to make things happen.
“When he walks into a room, he clearly has a presence. I think people gravitate to him,” said McLean County Recorder Lee Newcom. “He possesses a Reaganesque quality that I have seen in few political figures in Illinois.”
U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson defeated Brady in the Republican primary for a congressional seat in 2000, but he was impressed by his opponent and has endorsed him in the governor’s race.
“I saw a person who was unwilling to take cheap shots, who was only willing to tell the truth,” Johnson said. “I just have one big criticism — he’s too good-looking.”
Brady, 44, helps run his family business, which has interests in everything from real estate and hotels to arena football and radio stations. He says, and others agree, that the business was struggling when he stepped forward in the 1980s to turn things around.
He served four terms in the Illinois House and is in his second term in the Senate.
Brady calls himself a “mainstream conservative.” He says that means he is conservative on social issues but is more concerned about getting things done than fighting ideological battles.
He opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest, but Brady said as governor he would “move incrementally” and look for common ground on issues of parental consent and late-term abortion.
On the Net:
On paper, Ron Gidwitz should be a powerhouse in the governor’s race.
He ran a successful company, giving him a business record to brag about and a personal fortune to use in his campaign.
Gidwitz has enough government experience, particularly on education issues, to say he knows how to get things done, but not so much that a rival could easily distort his record.
His views on the issues mirror those of successful GOP candidates — a supporter of abortion rights and some gun control, an advocate of low taxes and business-friendly policies.
Gidwitz, 60, grew up in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park. His father founded the Helene Curtis cosmetics company, maker of Suave and Finesse shampoos, and Gidwitz ended up going into the family business. He went through the company training program, working on the factory floor, in marketing, in sales — just about everything.
Gidwitz said he soon decided he didn’t like the company’s direction and thought he could do better, even if it meant criticizing his father’s management and calling for change. He did, and was made a senior vice president and then president at age 34.
“What happened was, there was an opportunity. The leadership was not sufficient,” he said.
Gidwitz led the company from $100 million in sales when he took over to $1.3 billion in 1996, when he arranged its sale to Unilever. He stayed on for a few years, running the company for its new owner before leaving to joining an investment firm.
He was also active in business groups, charities and government panels. Chicago’s Democratic mayor, Richard M. Daley, picked the Republican to serve as chairman of the City Colleges of Chicago in 1991.
He oversaw the community colleges until 1999, a period of major program cuts, changes in class offerings and attempts to shake up the system. He overcame a no-confidence vote by the colleges’ faculty and accusations of racism by opponents of his cuts.
Gidwitz gets better reviews from the business world.
He has worked closely with business groups as they tried to shape public policy on taxes, economic development, education and more.
People who watched Gidwitz in action speak glowingly of his ability to work long hours, understand complex issues and keep everyone focused on what had to be done.
Jim Oberweis knows second place.
He finished there after two unsuccessful GOP primary runs for the U.S. Senate, and that’s where recent poll numbers show him in the race for the Republican nomination for Illinois governor.
But the dairy magnate, whose last name many voters likely associate more with ice cream than politics, says the outcome will be different this time.
“I feel it in my bones, I’m going to win,” Oberweis said.
He’s counting on his outside-Springfield image and his business acumen to win over voters. He’s also touting his conservative views, although he says he prefers the tag “fully committed to Midwestern values” over the “conservative” label.
For Oberweis that means balancing the state budget, believing in the ability of people — not government — to overcome their problems and defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Oberweis says he has shown the depth of his commitment to protecting traditional marriage by helping circulate petitions to try to get a constitutional amendment protecting it on the state ballot. If it makes it, he predicts the measure will pass.
“I believe that is part of the Midwestern values that make up Illinois,” said Oberweis, who lives in the Kane County village of Sugar Grove, just west of Aurora.
Oberweis also favors reversing a state law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. He supports the death penalty, promises not to raise taxes, talks about saving money by ending government corruption and favors vouchers so children can leave public schools for private ones.
“I think he has really energized some of the conservative base in the Republican Party,” said Jonathan Wright, a former state representative from Lincoln who was one of Oberweis’ opponents in the 2004 GOP Senate primary.
At times, it’s hard to tell whether Oberweis, 59, is promoting his campaign or the dairy business founded by his grandfather, who started delivering milk to his Aurora neighbors in 1915. The business, which has 39 ice cream stores and more in the works, employs more than 1,000 people, according to Oberweis’ campaign Web site.
Having never held office, Oberweis likes to brag about being a state Capitol outsider. He says voters need to look outside to someone like him “in order to clean up the mess in Springfield.”
Oberweis has pledged as governor not to accept contributions from companies doing business with the state. He also wants the prohibition extended to the state’s other top officeholders.
Judy Baar Topinka
Experience is usually a good thing. But when you’re the only elected statewide official in a primary running against opponents promising to clean up the system, it might seem not so good.
That’s the tightrope Judy Baar Topinka is walking as the front-runner in the GOP primary race for governor.
Opponents charge the three-term state treasurer and former lawmaker is entrenched in the political establishment. Topinka says it’s her know-how of government that makes her qualified for the state’s top job.
She wears her quarter-century of political experience like a badge, proclaiming on her campaign Web site that she is “Leadership you know ... Leadership you trust.”
Still, Topinka is careful to cast herself and her office as independent of the four governors she has served with, including her one-time ally George Ryan, who is on trial on federal corruption charges, and Rod Blagojevich, who is criticized for giving jobs and state contracts to campaign donors.
Ethics is a key issue in the campaign, and Topinka is taking her share of flak. She accepted contributions from banks doing business with the treasurer’s office and has been questioned about her ties to a top Republican Party official who is a lobbyist in Illinois.
She dismisses the criticism, saying her office contracts are bid and she proposed an ethics plan that would prohibit lobbying by high-ranking party officials.
“We don’t do that pay-for-play stuff, we just don’t,” Topinka, 62, said.
The campaign has grown increasingly contentious as Tuesday’s primary election nears. Topinka is refusing to participate in any more debates with her challengers.
While Topinka is forced to defend some her political alliances, she’s not shy about aligning herself with popular former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar, fiscally conservative and socially moderate like her.
Edgar is Topinka’s honorary campaign chair and has starred in a TV ad promoting her leadership and experience.
“She knows government,” Edgar said. “Governor is not a place for an amateur.”
Edgar says Topinka has the best shot at being elected because she is a fiscal conservative and social moderate whose blue-collar background can appeal to a wide range of voters both Republican and Democrat.
To broaden her appeal, Topinka, who is often labeled as too liberal by some in the GOP for her support of abortion and gay rights, tapped conservative DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett to be her running mate.
NEWS MEDIA JOURNAL
Illinois Governor Supports Farrakhan Adviser - Paul Miller
Imagine a Republican governor appointing a member of the Ku Klux Klan to serve on a panel to fight discrimination or to advise on minority hiring policies. The justifiable outrage within the African American community and national media frenzy would undoubtedly force the panelist to resign or be dismissed. The consequences of this insensitive decision would include the governor stepping down and being branded a racist. Now change the political affiliation of this elected official to Democrat and the appointee still a member of an anti-Semitic/racist organization, and notice the screams of outrage and national media hysteria become a deafening silence. This is the current situation in the state of Illinois.Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-IL), appointed a member of the Nation of Islam and adviser to Minister Louis Farrakhan to the state Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes. You are reading this correctly. A worshiper of a vile anti-Semite is serving the state of Illinois to combat bigotry.Claudette Marie Muhammad, Minister of Protocol for the Nation of Islam, was named to the panel last August. Commission members learned of Muhammad's connection to Farrakhan last month, when she invited her colleagues to attend the annual Saviour’s Day event, hosted by the Nation of Islam. Muhammad's invitation meant her fellow panelists would hear the keynote address by her spiritual leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan.The members, who accepted Muhammad's invitation, were subjected to a speech by the Nation of Islam leader that was reminiscent of 1930's Nazi Germany. “It's wicked Jews, false Jews that make it a crime for you to preach the word of God, then they call you homophobic,” said Farrakhan. “These neo-cons and Zionists have manipulated Bush and the American government and our boys and girls are dying in Iraq and in Afghanistan for the cause of Israel, not for the cause of America!”Farrakhan's rhetoric also included, “I'm warning you America. You better get rid of them neo-cons. That's the synagogue of Satan.” Most troubling, from the man who called Judaism a “Gutter Religion” nearly twenty years ago, was his justification for hate. “God does not love everybody. He said he loved Jacob but he hated Esau. So if God is our example and he can love and he can hate then don't be afraid to love and don't be afraid to hate.”
Governor Blagojevich's position, since the revelation of Muhammad's true identity, has been continued support of Muhammad. “What I'm not going to do is engage in the practice of guilt by association. Ms. Muhammad didn't say those things,” said Blagojevich. This absurd rationalization by the governor has been the excuse Black Democratic legislators have used to justify Muhammad's membership on this commission. What has made Blagojevich's decision more repulsive is his refusal to listen to Jewish Democratic lawmakers who have urged him to ask Muhammad to repudiate Farrakhan’s statements. Muhammad has publicly stated she will not disavow any comment made by the “Honorable Louis Farrakhan.”Blagojevich claims that he did not know about Muhammad's relationship with Farrakhan when he appointed her. This admission of ignorance by the governor shows a lack of competence in his administration. However, once the governor learned of his mistake, he should have immediately replaced Muhammad or at least demanded she publicly repudiate Farrakhan's hateful rhetoric. He has done neither.Chicago area and statewide media outlets have adequately covered this story, which may have election year repercussions. The Chicago Tribune Editorial board has called for Blagojevich to “ask Muhammad publicly to renounce the anti-Semitic comments of Farrakhan--and ask her to leave the commission if she will not do so.” The Chicago Tribune sentiments have been echoed by columnists and radio commentators throughout the state of Illinois. However, no one has been willing to ask ‘Why is Blagojevich showing such disdain for his Jewish constituents?” With the exception of the Fox News Channel, the major networks and 24 hour cable news outlets have not uttered a word about this relevant story. Undoubtedly, if Blagojevich name was followed by an “R” instead of a “D”, a media frenzy would ensue among the networks, New York Times and CNN. The media “Double Standard” regarding Democrats and Republicans is reprehensible.Jewish Voters continue to be taken for granted by Democratic leaders. Blagojevich's true colors have been brought to the forefront with his lack of concern for his Jewish constituents. Shamefully, the media continues to be an accessory when it comes to hiding or downplaying anti-Semitism within the Democratic Party. Governor Blagojevich may regret his anti-Jewish policies. With a job approval rating that makes President Bush's look like Mother Teresa, Blagojevich cannot afford to alienate any portion of his base. Republicans have demanded from the beginning of this fiasco that Muhammad be removed. Not even the most devout Jewish Democrat will be able to vote for Blagojevich without questioning that decision.Blagojevich is believed to have aspiration's that will lead him to the White House. After this display of incompetence and disrespect, I believe his career in politics will be synonymous with support within the Jewish community...dwindling.
State Sen. Bill Brady, Chicago milk mogul Jim Oberweis and State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka were the main event at the Williamson County Republican Women Lincoln Day Dinner.
Aside from the expected speech-giving, there was one inside joke that set off a string of murmurs around the VFW Hall. Early in the evening, as the candidates shuffled in, Joe Birkett, current DuPage County state's attorney and lieutenant governor candidate running in tandem with Topinka, handed a handful of straws to Brady.
Last week, Jim Oberweis asked Brady and Gidwitz to draw straws to determine who would stay in the GOP race for governor. The losers would drop out and the winner would take on front-runner Topinka.
According to The Associated Press, Oberweis would have 10 chances to draw the winning straw, while the other two would have one chance each. Polls show Topinka with a commanding lead and Oberweis running a distant second, while Brady and Gidwitz trail behind.
"It just shows the kind of innovative free-market thinking Jim brings in," Joe Wiegand, Oberweis campaign manager, was quoted by the AP as saying.
The Brady and Gidwitz campaigns said they never considered the proposal.
So with the straws tucked away from view, the candidates took to the podium to pitch themselves to crowd Saturday. While each had their own spin on the issues, all seemed to express a hope for a renewed Illinois Republican Party
Topinka, who was literally wearing running shoes, touted her three terms as state treasurer and fiscal responsibility as the top reasons why she would be the best pick to recapture the governor's mansion.
"It's time to put mama in the house," Topinka said. "We want to restore trust in the governor's office. We want to get the state's financial house in order and we want to return state government to the state capitol."
Birkett added that he and Topinka have a combined total of 50 years of public service. Birkett, a self-described conservative said the reason he is running with moderate Topinka is because of trust, not because they always agree. He said the two made a balanced team.
Oberweis wanted to flaunt his business skills over his politico experience. He said to end a culture of state corruption, Illinois would need a governor who is not imbedded in the political system.
"We need somebody with clean hands and who has not been part of past administrations," Oberweis said. "I have a history of doing things that people have told me could not be done."
Brady, who hails from Bloomington and is the only "downstate" candidate, has pledged to cut, not raise taxes.
Brady said he would enact a property tax relief act to ease $1 billion in property taxes, abolish the five percent gasoline sales tax and repeal 300 business fees and taxes. Brady also pushed moral values as a hallmark of his campaign.
"I want to build Illinois into the strongest Republican state in the nation and return to the values of Lincoln," he said.
Gidwitz, the former head of the Helene Curtis cosmetics company, was not in attendance, but his running partner and a lt. governor hopeful, Steve Rauschenberger was present to carry the banner for the team.
Rauschenberger said voters would not just be selecting the next governor, they would also be selecting the leadership of the state party. He said there are four main issues he would like to address as lt. governor: ethics, education, healthcare and middle class opportunity.
"We have the opportunity to be a great state," he said. "So why are we failing? Leadership."
Internet-journalist Andy Martin, who is running for governor, was not in attendance.
Then again, State Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, suspects Oberweis knew exactly what he was doing when he incorrectly listed him, instead of his brother, Dan Bost, at the top of a string of political supporters for his candidacy to challenge Gov. Rod Blagojevich this fall.
Dan Bost, owner of Bost Trucking Co. in Murphysboro and a former Jackson County Board member currently seeking election to the board, is an Oberweis supporter.
"I have worked very hard throughout my service in the General Assembly to build a credible reputation throughout Southern Illinois," Mike Bost said in a prepared statement Friday morning. "I view the listing of my name by Oberweis as a supporter of his as a deliberate attempt to confuse and mislead the voters."
Why would they be confused? Because Mike Bost has been a vocal advocate of State Sen. Bill Brady for governor.
"I have made my support for Bill Brady clear," Bost continued, adding that errors in Oberweis' campaign have become too commonplace to overlook as simple mistakes.
Oberweis has been chastised for displaying false newspaper headlines about opponent Judy Baar Topinka in a recent television ad. He has also taken heat this week for falsely accusing Brady of supporting Blagojevich's last budget proposal.
The mistake on the Web site reportedly was done by Oberweis campaigner Jennifer DuMont. In a message she sent to Dan Bost she said she inadvertently mixed up the names of the brothers. DuMont said Dan Bost accepted the mishap as "an honest misunderstanding, not at all a case of dirty politics."
Dan Bost said he is inclined to believe Oberweis, despite his legislator brother's suspicions.
"That's his opinion. My opinion is it was a mistake," he said. "There is no reason to make mountains out of molehills."
Mike Bost said he mainly wanted to clear the air about which candidate he supports and said the issue shouldn't detract from the Republicans' main focus of removing Blagojevich from office.
Mistakes or otherwise, Bost said he still considers all candidates on the Republican ticket a more fitting choice for governor than Blagojevich.
"I sure hope you win," Ms. Allen, a postal worker who usually votes Republican, told Ms. Duckworth, a retired Army major and helicopter pilot who lost both legs in a grenade attack in Iraq. As Ms. Duckworth left, her admirer said, "I think it's just the best thing that could happen to all of us to have her up there as a role model."
Such reactions are exactly why the leading lights of the Democratic Party — including Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Illinois's own Barack Obama — have rushed to back Ms. Duckworth's bid for the Democratic nomination in Tuesday's primary, making the Sixth District contest to replace Henry Hyde, the Republican incumbent who is retiring after 32 years, one of the most closely watched in the country.
There are just 25 open Congressional seats this season, and experts say demographic shifts here in DuPage County, a longtime Republican bastion west of Chicago, place it among perhaps 10 that will be truly competitive (along with 23 where incumbents are vulnerable). With Democrats needing to pick up 15 seats to gain control of the House, Vice President Dick Cheney called this one a "must-win" for Republicans when he visited this week to raise more than $200,000 for state Senator Peter Roskam, who faces no opposition on the Republican side.
Ms. Duckworth, 38, a natural campaigner whose compelling personal saga has made her the headliner of the Democrats' new strategy of running military veterans to try to blunt Republican advantages on national security, has endorsements from the party stars who recruited her and from all four major newspapers in the Chicago region.
But she faces a stiff primary contender in Christine Cegelis, a computer consultant who has not stopped campaigning since earning 44 percent of the vote against Mr. Hyde in 2004. Ms. Cegelis says her "neighbor-to-neighbor" bid has been helped by people who dislike the outside influences behind her opponent. Ms. Duckworth lives three miles outside the district and has collected most of her $800,000 bankroll from beyond its boundaries.
"Tammy does have a fantastic story but it's not the story most of us have," said Ms. Cegelis, 53, noting that calls to her own campaign spiked after Mr. Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, recently sent out e-mail appeals that netted Ms. Duckworth $139,000 in a few days. "It's the difference between the celebrity big name on TV or your neighbor. Who do you want to represent you, someone who has lived like you, had kids in schools, or who was brought in from outside?"
Ms. Duckworth said that she could not leave her Hoffman Estates home because of the investments made in retrofitting it after her injuries, and that the crucial issues of health care and education "do not change across Algonquin Road," the major artery that forms a district line.
Along with voting in this marquee Congressional contest on Tuesday, Illinois voters will choose gubernatorial candidates, with Judy Baar Topinka, who supports abortion rights, leading a five-way fight among Republicans and a quixotic reformer vying for enough votes to at least embarrass the incumbent Democrat, Rod R. Blagojevich.
Ms. Topinka, the state treasurer and former party chairwoman, led the Republican field with 36 percent of the vote, 15 points ahead of her closest challenger, in a Chicago Tribune poll published on March 14. Ms. Topinka has dismissed her more conservative rivals as "morons" and taken to skipping forums at which they gang up on her.
On the Democratic side, Edwin Eisendrath, a former Chicago alderman, borrowed $100,000 against his home and collected more than $1 million from relatives to run television advertisements this week that suggest that re-electing the governor is as risky as juggling chain saws. Citing corruption investigations swirling around Mr. Blagojevich's administration, the commercials liken the incumbent to his predecessor, George Ryan, a Republican awaiting a jury verdict after a five-month criminal trial in federal court.
"People have said to me, 'You won't win, but you ought to,' " Mr. Eisendrath said in a telephone interview from the 2003 gray Honda Accord in which he has logged 10,000 miles in recent weeks. "For me, the most important thing is for people to decide their votes matter, and if they believe their votes matter, they will not cast them for what they don't like, they'll cast them for change."
Here in the Sixth District, Ms. Duckworth, Ms. Cegelis and a third Democratic candidate — Lindy Scott, an evangelical Christian and Spanish professor at Wheaton College — are all pitching a message of broad change, hoping to capitalize on President Bush's falling approval ratings. Democratic primaries here used to be, in the words of Paul Green, a political scientist at Chicago's Roosevelt University, "a fight to see whose head goes into the guillotine," Democratic leaders now see a prime opportunity to pick up a seat and prove that they can win in rapidly changing suburbs.
Mr. Bush won the district in 2004 with 53 percent of the vote, compared with 68 percent for his father in 1988. More Asians and Hispanics have moved to the area, many from Chicago, with the white population dropping from 91 percent of DuPage County in 1996 to 84 percent in 2004.
The two leading Democrats agree on most issues, but it has become a David vs. Goliath battle, with Ms. Duckworth sucking up most of the spotlight while Ms. Cegelis trudges on with small neighborhood kaffeeklatsches.
Ms. Duckworth had a Manhattan fund-raiser featuring Mrs. Clinton and is running television advertisements in which Mr. Obama praises her as "a person of conscience and proven courage." Ms. Cegelis's endorsers include Dick Simpson, a former Chicago alderman and local pundit, and Democracy for America, the remnants of Howard Dean's political machine.
Whether in her wheelchair or on her state-of-the-art prosthetic legs, Ms. Duckworth, who is half Thai and grew up in Southeast Asia, is disarming and open about her injuries, joking about the "pooch" that has developed under her right arm because it was rebuilt using tissue from her stomach. At a nursing home exercise class Thursday morning, she casually lifted her skirt to show her fellow wheelchair-sitters the remnants of her legs — just a few inches on the right, below the knee on the left.
She balances on the lone knee to climb from chair to S.U.V. on her own, forces herself to eat a salad with her right hand though it struggles to manipulate the fork, and continues with twice-a-week physical therapy in hopes of sprinting again. She is looking forward to getting new prosthetics that will let her wear high-heels or flip-flops.
"I'm an Iraq war vet; that's how I got injured," she told patrons at a Starbucks here on Thursday morning as she handed out fliers. "It's not so bad, though. I survived. I'm home. And I have a great understanding of health care."
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