David John Diersen, GOPUSA Illinois Editor
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March 23, 2006 News Clips - Text 2
Posted by Diersen on 15-Mar-2007
DIERSEN HEADLINE: "Topinka said she doesn’t need Oberweis’ endorsement to win against Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich."  Birkett blasts Oberweis: He “should get on the bus, just like everybody else. The bus is going to leave, with or without him.”
Trying to bridge the divide  Oberweis spurns Topinka's olive branch to unify GOP - Eric Krol 

Republican governor nominee Judy Baar Topinka’s attempt to unify her party following a blistering primary failed Wednesday when foe Jim Oberweis refused to formally endorse her unless she meets certain undisclosed conditions.

“I’m hoping that Judy will join our campaign for reform of the political system in Illinois. And if she does, I certainly will endorse her,” said Oberweis, a three-time statewide political loser from Sugar Grove, before what was billed as a “unity breakfast” at a downtown Chicago hotel.

While saying he’d discuss the details at a later date, Oberweis did reveal he’d “probably be very satisfied if she would just publicly call for the resignation of Bob Kjellander,” the state’s Republican national committeeman who’s been a lightning rod for mixing a lucrative lobbying practice with politics.

Topinka said she doesn’t need Oberweis’ endorsement to win against Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

“For heaven’s sakes, we’re trying to bring a party together,” said Topinka, whose ethics plan would bar political party officials like Kjellander from lobbying. “I’m not going to talk about conditions; we’re going to just get the job done and bring the party together.”

The comments were part of a public dance between the two following a primary campaign in which runner-up Oberweis ripped Topinka, including airing an ad featuring her and indicted former Gov. George Ryan dancing a polka.

Topinka, acknowledging she needs the entire GOP and more to win in a Democratic state, reached out to Oberweis in front of the breakfast audience.

She called Oberweis “an absolutely phenomenal campaigner. A very good man with a good heart who wants the very best for the state. Looking forward to working with you.”

Oberweis pointedly did not mention Topinka during his speech, and the two didn’t directly interact or shake hands. Fielding reporter questions at least a half-dozen different times Wednesday morning, Oberweis did say Topinka would be a better governor than Blagojevich.

“The level of excitement, the level of my commitment will depend on the level of her commitment to reform in politics in Illinois,” said Oberweis, who added he’s unlikely to contribute to her campaign.

The every-two-years GOP unity breakfast took place in a room about a third of the size of the venue four years ago, a downsizing symbolic of the party’s declining fortunes.

Chicago millionaire Ron Gidwitz, who finished fourth, said he “unequivocally” endorsed Topinka and gave her a campaign contribution a spokeswoman said was $5,000.

Third-place finisher Bill Brady, a Bloomington state senator, sounded statesman-like. “My endorsement (of Topinka) is unconditional. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure we win. This isn’t about one person. This is about a party and a vision.”

Topinka running mate Joe Birkett, the DuPage County state’s attorney, said Oberweis “should get on the bus, just like everybody else. The bus is going to leave, with or without him.”

Cook County Republican Chairman Gary Skoien of Inverness criticized Oberweis for attaching strings to an endorsement. “There should be no conditions. She won the primary. Everybody should be with her 1,000 percent. She’s our candidate,” he said.

As for how she plans to unify the conservatives and moderates this fall, Topinka threw down an almost back-me-or-lose gauntlet.

“I’m hardly revolutionary, and I think much more acceptable to the average conservative than would be someone like Rod Blagojevich,” she said. “If the party wants to win an election, then we play as a team. If they want to lose an election, then that’s what we’re going to talk about.”

"As for Topinka, she turned out to be lucky, indeed, that Jim Oberweis and Bill Brady were both on the GOP primary ballot. Had only one been present, chances are good that conservative Republicans would have carried the day on Tuesday and set up a different kind of contrast in the governor’s race this fall." - Editorial

Two candidates, two messages, two sets of problems - Editorial

It would be too harsh to say that gubernatorial candidates Rod Blagojevich and Judy Baar Topinka are stumbling out of the primary and into the fall campaign, but clearly the voters of both parties have nominated candidates who are politically vulnerable.

The two also offer decidedly divergent messages on charting the state’s course — and those differences ultimately should inform and shape voters’ decisions. But the messages will be delivered against a backdrop of political headaches and potential headaches for both candidates.

Among those difficulties?

Gov. Blagojevich never was in danger of losing the Democratic nomination, but his campaign surely must know that it has some dissatisfaction to dispel when the incumbent loses more than a quarter of the primary vote to an opponent who had no money, was virtually unknown outside of Chicago and had not been visibly involved in politics for nearly two decades.

And that opponent, Edwin Eisendrath, managed before leaving the stage to throw in one final dig illustrating the governor’s vulnerability. Eisendrath said the next thing Blagojevich should do is to stop accepting contributions from contractors who do business with the state. No word from the governor yet on that challenge.

As for Topinka, she turned out to be lucky, indeed, that Jim Oberweis and Bill Brady were both on the GOP primary ballot. Had only one been present, chances are good that conservative Republicans would have carried the day on Tuesday and set up a different kind of contrast in the governor’s race this fall.

Topinka has a message that frankly should hold its own against the governor’s — and that merits more discussion later — but she also has tough political obstacles.

For one thing, any Republican candidate needs solid and unified support from the entire party to win a gubernatorial campaign in this increasingly Democratic state. But unity was a commodity in short supply at the GOP’s unity breakfast Wednesday. Oberweis, who ran a strong second to Topinka, did not even utter Topinka’s name, let alone offer his support to her, during his remarks. Conservatives may well be unhappy with the more moderate Topinka’s victory, but they also might ask themselves what they would gain by sitting out the fall campaign, all but ensuring a second term for the governor.

Besides facing a possible lack of support from her party’s conservatives, Topinka’s brain trust would be well advised to start burning the midnight oil to devise ways to place their candidate farther from the wreckage that is the state Republican party. Oberweis’ “pay-to-play polka” television ads, featuring Topinka dancing with former Gov. George Ryan, provided only a glimpse of what Topinka may face from the Blagojevich camp — a campaign that has $15 million to put behind its strategies.

Again, the issue messages figure to stand in stark contrast. Topinka is offering a somber-but-important message of austerity, while the governor will spin that message to claim that Republicans in general and Topinka in particular are indifferent to the best interests of the state’s children.

Differences also will be clear on the candidates’ approach to business and economic environment. The governor wasted no time after the primary polls closed reinforcing his populist approach by suggesting that Illinois raise its minimum wage by a dollar an hour. Topinka replied that such a move would cost jobs in a state already viewed by many as being inhospitable to employers.

These are important debates, the kind that should be carried out by both sides with as much detail and clarity as possible between now and November, even as both candidates work to exploit their opponent’s political liabilities and reduce their own.

DIERSEN HEADLINE: Outrageously, illegal immigration advocates increasingly argue that GOD agrees with them
Faithful vow to fight immigration bill  Lake County church rally puts human face on national debate - 

An immigration debate brewing in Congress that spilled onto the streets of Chicago on March 10 with an estimated 100,000 immigrants rallying in support of legalizing undocumented workers, has hit too close to home for Lake County’s faith community.

It is pegged to become the latest clash of ideologies — between those who believe extending a helping hand to immigrants, legal or not, is a moral and religious obligation and those who believe anyone doing so, be it churches or priests, is breaking the law.

Roughly 135 people from Lake County’s faith community gathered Wednesday at St. Mary of Vernon Catholic Church in Indian Creek to call attention to the impact of immigration legislation making its way through the Senate, and to humanize the immigration problem.

The Rev. Gary Graf of Holy Family Parish in Waukegan tried to give a face to the undocumented immigrants who make up nearly 70 percent of his congregation. Most, he said, are from Mexico, with significant numbers from Honduras, El Salvador, and Colombia.

“The vast majority are from rural areas, small towns where they have little education,” he said. “There is a collective feeling in our parish, whether it be Latino, black, Asian … all of us have a right to be here, regardless of who we are and where we come from.”

The Waukegan church, which also draws parishioners from Round Lake and Gurnee, is a strong advocate of granting undocumented immigrants rights and privileges enjoyed by legal immigrants.

At issue in the debate are several competing immigration reform bills being considered in the Senate. One such bill would criminalize anyone providing aid to illegal immigrants and another would legalize current undocumented immigrants in the country.

The bill, sponsored by U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr., a Wisconsin Republican, which calls for tighter border security and stricter penalties for those who help illegal immigrants, worries advocates and clerics the most. The clergy’s predominant concern is that their ministries could be in jeopardy.

“That is probably the single biggest factor that is mobilizing people in faith communities on this issue,” said Tom Lenz, an organizer for Lake County United, a coalition of social service agencies and faith-based groups. “Anything like even offering a meal at a homeless shelter, providing food and clothing, could be conceived of as assisting.”

Graf was defiant that his church’s ministry to immigrants would not change even if the bill were to become law.

“If by doing such, I would place myself as standing against the law of this country, so be it,” he said.

Such characterizations of the legislation’s effect have riled opponents of illegal immigration.

“It’s all propaganda. It’s all spin because they are saying the Sensenbrenner bill will make them criminals,” said Rosanna Pulido, director of the Illinois Minuteman Project that staged a protest outside Holy Family Parish in January, during an earlier interview. “It’s already a felony … to aid and abet illegal aliens. It’s already on the books. It is not being enforced.”

Pulido says churches and religious leaders need not be concerned about helping immigrants on a temporary basis.

“We understand that they can help people if they work within the law,” she said. “If it is long-term (assistance), that is aiding and abetting illegals.”

Representatives of other faiths joined Graf Wednesday in voicing opposition to the proposed legislation.

“Our Jewish law, enshrined in the Talmud, demands that we treat ‘the stranger’ with the utmost respect and dignity,” said Chuck Gutman with the Lake County Federation of Teachers. “There is a Biblical and rabbinic tradition of seeking the welfare of our fellow humans whenever and wherever they meet us.”

6th Congressional District: Roskam got 49,957 votes, Duckworth got 14,019 votes

The next battle - 

After four months of a grueling primary that opened up a schism between grass-roots Democrats and national powerbrokers, Tammy Duckworth scraped together a narrow victory in the 6th Congressional District.

Now the Iraq war veteran’s real work begins.

She has to reunite a fractured Democratic base smarting from the defeat of local favorite Christine Cegelis. Simultaneously, she’ll be waging war against Republican state Sen. Peter Roskam of Wheaton on his home turf to be the 6th District’s next representative in Congress.

With 99 percent of precincts counted, Duckworth had 14,019 votes compared to Cegelis’ 12,939 and Wheaton College professor Lindy Scott’s 5,038, according to unofficial results from Tuesday’s primary.

Duckworth didn’t slacken her pace Wednesday. She slept a few hours, rose early to greet commuters in Elmhurst and spent lunchtime thanking voters in Downers Grove.

She also reached out to Cegelis supporters.

“I look forward to us having a united campaign,” the 38-year-old said. “This race isn’t about me.”

Duckworth, who lost two legs in combat, is a rising star, backed by national Democrats such as Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Chicago. Democrats are backing no less than seven Iraq war veterans across the nation seeking seats in Congress.

But many local Democrats consider Duckworth a carpetbagger, who lives outside the district in Hoffman Estates.

Cegelis, a Mount Prospect consultant, stunned longtime U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde in 2004, by gaining 44 percent of the vote — a significant victory in a heavily Republican district. Cegelis continued campaigning and built up a devoted following.

“I hoped Christine would win; I felt strongly she was the better candidate,” said James Wall, an Elmhurst Democrat who’s worked on numerous national campaigns.

“Democrat leaders in DuPage felt the outside influence from Washington and Chicago was unnecessary.”

But powerful friends and an influx of cash — Duckworth raised more than $653,000 since entering the race in December — don’t translate into people who’ll put up your signs, Wall contended.

“I think it will hurt her because you need volunteers on the ground,” he said.

While insisting Duckworth has what it takes to beat Roskam, Democrat leaders sought common ground.

 “We hope they’ll understand what’s at stake here,” Durbin said. “We tried to make the point we weren’t campaigning against any Democrat. We were campaigning for Tammy.”

Some call Duckworth’s narrow victory a lackluster effort, given the amount of money poured into the campaign and personal support by heavy-hitters such as Obama and Durbin.

Duckworth counters that given the short time she campaigned and the lack of a hot race on the ballot, the results were expected.

“I’ll take a victory anytime,” Duckworth said.

On Wednesday, Cegelis announced she had called Duckworth and wished her well. Reached by phone, she declined comment.

Already the race is shaping up to be a feisty one. Roskam, a staunch conservative, differs from Duckworth on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion rights. They’ll also butt heads on the war, with Duckworth highly critical of the Bush administration’s handling of the conflict while Roskam supports the president.

And though Duckworth has Durbin and Obama, Roskam is friends with House Speaker Dennis Hastert and recently held a fundraiser where Vice President Dick Cheney was guest of honor. The event raised more than $200,000.

National Republican Congressional Committee officials quickly reacted to Duckworth’s win, sending out a news release pointing out her views on topical questions were unknown.

“Because she never won elective office, voters have no idea where she stands,” spokesman Jonathan Collegio said.

Roskam, who ran unopposed, expressed confidence in the match-up, citing the fact that early results showed him with 49,957 votes compared to the Democrats’ total of 31,996.

“It seems like turmoil on their side,” he said. “I was encouraged to have a united Republican Party behind me.”

Conventional wisdom says Duckworth will paint Roskam as an extremist while he touts his home-grown credentials and record as a state legislator.

“Peter Roskam — out of touch, out of step with people of the district,” Duckworth told a cheering crowd Tuesday night.

Roskam faulted Cegelis for launching the first salvo.

“I think people are tired of negative campaigning. I’m going to run on positive issues,” he said.

Scott, Duckworth and Cegelis are all expected to attend a unity breakfast Saturday where DuPage Democratic Party Chairwoman Gayl Ferraro predicted the three will make peace.

“Tammy won and we move on,” she said. “It’s time for all of us to pull together.”

DIERSEN HEADLINE: Ultra liberal Democrat Burt Constable blast Oberweis, again

Another silver medal for the Steve Fossett of politics: Oberweis - Burt Constable

Maybe it’s all those red, white and blue balloons floating around the stage, but Jim Oberweis’ “victory party” feels like one of those press conferences called by millionaire balloonist/pilot Steve Fossett.

Friday, Fossett announced to a largely uninterested world that he set another new record for flying around the world farther than anyone else who ever departed and landed at the same spot.

A rich guy with an ego, who spends lots of money on a personal quest, only to end up in the same place where he started? That’s Jim Oberweis’ political career in a nutshell.

Perpetual silver medalist of GOP primary races, Oberweis conceded Wednesday that he finished second to Judy Baar Topinka in this spring’s Republican gubernatorial primary. Oberweis finished second to the forgettable Jim Durkin in the 2002 Republican Senate primary race to see who would finish second to Democrat Dick Durbin.

Oberweis finished second to scandal-plagued Jack Ryan in the 2004 primary for U.S. Senate. And when GOP leaders forced Ryan to withdraw, Oberweis again found himself the bridesmaid to the much-pursued Mike Ditka. When Ditka balked, Oberweis still couldn’t stop his party from wooing out-of-state loser oddball Alan Keyes, who eventually finished second by a landslide to Democrat Barack Obama.

After such a trifecta of voter rejecta, will the dairy magnate ante up and play another hand of political poker?

“Who knows? I haven’t even thought about that,” Oberweis says as the clock strikes midnight on his “victory party.”

“Go home,” he tells a dwindling but spirited crowd of less than a hundred. “I’m going home. I suggest you do, too.”

Besides, he quips, “the ice cream is gone.”

The bigger question is why doesn’t Oberweis go home for good. He owns a popular dairy and a successful financial company. He speaks lovingly of his five kids, 11 grandkids and two more on the way. He thanks his ex-wife for the job she did as a mother, and he seems almost giddy with his new fiancée, Julie Wilkinson.

The theme of the night is “have fun,” says Matt Barber, who doubles as Oberweis’ DuPage County campaign coordinator and the drummer in the trio entertaining the guests. The band even changes its name for Oberweis.

“We’re ‘Billy Blatfunk,’” Barber says of his band. “But tonight, we’re ‘The Reformers.’”

Lawyer-turned-bass-guitarist Jim Falvey joins Andy Rice, who works in sales, as the two 40-year-old Western Springs musicians open the gig with “Call Me The Breeze” — a J.J. Cale tune made famous by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The blues song with lyrics such as “I keep blowing down the road” and “ain’t no change in me” foreshadow how the party will end for Oberweis.

Life for Oberweis seems like a breeze — except in politics, where he keeps wandering down the same sad path. And he hears abuse he doesn’t hear in the rest of his life. His fellow Republicans called him a “moron” and suggested that Democrats would paint him as a “racist bigot.”

Oberweis’ blistering attack on illegal immigrants, while toned down during his latest campaign, earns him plenty of critics, but also fans such as 19-year-old Kevin Cherry.

Wearing a Sex Pistols “The Filth and the Fury” T-shirt, the DeKalb teen says he’s an Oberweis Republican. So is buddy Beau Sauer, 19, who adds an Oberweis bumper sticker to his Rage Against The Machine T-shirt.

While those bands are the antithesis of the GOP, Cherry sees a link. He says the difference between Oberweis and punker Johnny Rotten is that Oberweis has a better chance for success “fighting the system from inside the system.”

While the overwhelmingly white supporters air their political views, Omar Rendon waits on their every need. Part of a Holiday Inn Select Naperville wait staff dominated by Mexican immigrants, Rendon acknowledges that Oberweis wouldn’t win any popularity contests with him or his friends and relatives.

But the Bolingbrook resident, who has a green card and has lived here for 13 years, doesn’t have time to chat.

“I worked breakfast, lunch and this reception,” Rendon says, still smiling after 18 straight hours of labor. “It’s my job.”

He clears away the American flag table decorations, the empty half-pint cartons of Oberweis ice cream and the red, white and blue balloons.

The balloons make me think Oberweis might have more fun and more success if his next race were against Steve Fossett.

Fortner: New GOP House nominee must win in fall and decide a good time to resign as West Chicago Mayor -

By November, West Chicago Mayor Michael Fortner could have a new job.

And the people of West Chicago could be in search of a new mayor.

Fortner handily beat Wheaton’s Pamela Mitroff Tuesday to win the GOP nomination for the 95th District state representative seat, according to unofficial results.

No Democrat has declared for the seat, making it likely Fortner could be headed to Springfield by next year to represent the heavily Republican district that also includes all or parts of Wheaton, Warrenville, Batavia, Winfield, Aurora, North Aurora, Naperville and Geneva.

Wednesday Fortner reiterated his plan to resign as mayor if he wins the general election on Nov. 7.

“The real election is still in November,” he said. “I’m the nominee.”

State law mandates that a mayoral vacancy be filled within 30 days by an acting mayor appointed by the city council, said Doreen Nelson, assistant executive director at the DuPage County Election Commission.

But the timing of Fortner’s anticipated resignation could determine the next chance voters in West Chicago will have to choose their next mayor.

If Fortner steps down in November, an appointed replacement would serve until spring 2009. But if he were to wait until after taking the oath of office for the state House seat on Jan. 10, 2007 — if he wins it — voters in West Chicago could decide in spring 2007 who serves through spring 2009.

Fortner said he’s waiting to see if a Democrat enters the state House race — the party could choose to appoint a candidate — before he looks at who should fill his mayoral job. The Democrats would have to appoint a candidate between June 19 and June 26, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The 95th District seat was vacated when incumbent Randy Hultgren chose to run for the GOP nomination for the 48th District state Senate seat, which he won Tuesday.

Fortner plans to discuss how to handle his resignation with the city council and residents.

West Chicago Alderman Mike Kwasman said city officials have not discussed who should succeed Fortner.

“It’s not even on the radar screen,” he said. “We want to keep moving the city forward and let the politics part of it take a back seat.”

Kwasman did say he preferred an acting mayor be named and an election held in spring 2007.

“The best thing is for the people decide,” he said.

Mathias holds on in GOP 53rd race - 
Mathias holds on in GOP 53rd race - 

Incumbent Sidney H. Mathias claimed victory on Wednesday against Scott Bludorn for the Republican nomination in the 53rd House District.

Mathias said it would be almost impossible for Bludorn to catch up at this point, since most votes in key precincts had been tabulated. Bludorn called as well to offer his congratulations, Mathias said.

In unofficial totals with 91 of 99 precincts reporting, Mathias led his opponent 3,780 to 3,193.

The race was close because Bludorn mounted a hard-working campaign, and he received the endorsement of the Republicans of Wheeling Township, Mathias said.

Mathias added he was away in Springfield and did not have as much time to campaign as Bludorn, who also ran as a Libertarian against Mathias in the 2004 election.

Bludorn said he felt his campaign had done all it could to make it a close race against an incumbent.

“We gave the voters a real choice,” Bludorn said.

The candidates, both of Buffalo Grove, sparred over a number of issues, including how to trim the budget.

Bludorn said he believed the state should look at ways of making government more efficient, including privatization.

Mathias said he believed the solution is much simpler: Put the Republicans back in power.

In November, Mathias will face off against Democrat Michael MacDonald, whose victory over well-known activist Rob Sherman was apparent Tuesday night.

With 91 of 99 precincts reporting Wednesday, MacDonald led Sherman 3,283 to 1,058, in unofficial totals.

The 53rd District takes in most of Arlington Heights north of Northwest Highway, much of Buffalo Grove and some of Prospect Heights and Wheeling.

Coladipietro: Meet, greet, win  Grassroots  efforts pay off in House race -

It wasn’t until after 2 a.m. Wednesday that Franco Coladipietro was ready to claim victory in unseating incumbent Roger Jenisch to become the Republican Party’s nominee for the 45th District state House seat.

But don’t think Coladipietro, a 37-year-old Bloomingdale attorney, got to sleep in Wednesday morning.

“I wish I could’ve, but I watch our children in the mornings and my young son was up at 6:30 a.m. like clockwork. No one in this house cares that I won any election last night, so no special treatment for me,” he joked.

In still unofficial totals, Coladipietro earned 4,676 votes over Jenisch’s 4,127.

“We knew it would be close and that Roger would put up a great fight,” Coladipietro said.

He cited “the most basic of grassroots campaigns” in explaining how he managed, in his first bid for public office, to best a seasoned politician who once enjoyed strong party backing.

Jenisch had served more than six years on the DuPage County Board before his two-year term in the state House, but lost the backing of many party heavyweights to his opponent this time around.

Coladipietro said Jenisch, who did not return calls Wednesday, mistakenly relied on his reputation and name recognition to carry him through the campaign.

“Since day one, I’ve said I was going to meet everyone in this district, and I’ve done my best,” Coladipietro said. “Those that I wasn’t fortunate enough to meet, heard about me through word-of-mouth endorsements from their neighbors. That’s how these races should be won and lost at this level.”

After a brief vacation next week, Coladipietro said he’ll put his game face back on to prepare for his Nov. 7 general election showdown against Democratic nominee Rob Bisceglie, a Roselle resident and Bensenville native.

“I’m going to work just as hard through November and the campaign is going to work just as hard,” Coladipietro said. “It’s easy to assume this is a Republican district, but we’re not taking a single thing for granted until the voters send me to Springfield.”

Bisceglie said Wednesday he welcomes the challenge and the dynamics of entering a race that no longer has an incumbent.

“Now we know this is going to be a very interesting race so I’m looking forward to focusing on issues and debating the issues with Mr. Coladipietro,” Bisceglie said. “We’re going to have a lot of fun.”

McBride: DuPage District 4 GOP nominee thinks nod from Birkett a benefit -

Joseph Birkett is on a roll.

After running away with the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, the DuPage County state’s attorney saw one of his friends bounce a county board member out of office in the GOP primary.

Jerry “J.R.” McBride said Wednesday he owes part of his District 4 victory against incumbent Grant Eckhoff to the endorsement he received from Birkett. The 38-year-old Glen Ellyn insurance broker is the only county board candidate Birkett supported.

“The endorsement helped,” McBride said. “To have Joe Birkett behind you — he means a lot to a lot of people in DuPage County.”

Eckhoff agreed the Birkett endorsement was enough to make a difference. “I am sure it had an impact,” he said.

But Eckhoff also gave a nod to the time and effort McBride put into the campaign.

“He had a ton of signs up,” Eckhoff said. “He was well organized. And I am sure all his friends and family and contacts in Glen Ellyn marched to the polls.”

Still, McBride said he’s “shocked” to defeat Eckhoff. Unless Democrats slate an opponent in the fall, McBride will represent the district, which includes all or parts of Addison, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Glen Ellyn, Glendale Heights, Lisle, Lombard, Wheaton and Winfield.

“I am a very, very humble guy today with everything that’s gone on,” McBride said.

Party switch

Talk about sour grapes.

One day after losing the Republican nomination for the county board seat she’s held for two decades, Irene Stone is refusing to support the GOP candidate who defeated her.

Instead, Stone said Wednesday she’s going to endorse DuPage Water Commissioner Elizabeth “Liz” Chaplin — the Democrat seeking the District 2 seat Stone has held since 1986.

“I think she would do a great job,” Stone said of Chaplin.

“She would do a good job with seniors because she has concern and cares,” the 77-year-old Lombard resident added. “She’s not full of baloney.”

The endorsement surprised Jeff Redick, who bested Stone in the GOP primary.

“You’re kidding me?” Redick said. “Unbelievable.”

Chaplin said she appreciates Stone’s support. Both women worked together when contaminated private wells were found in Chaplin’s neighborhood near Downers Grove.

“I have a great deal of respect for her,” Chaplin said. “We share some of the same views on things. I am flattered she is endorsing me.”

Stone doesn’t hide her anger toward Redick — and his claim that she didn’t provide the energetic representation to the district.

Still, Redick said he’s disappointed about Stone’s decision to support a Democrat.

“But the fact of the matter is, the race for Nov. 7 is starting today,” he said. “And we’re moving forward with that.”

District 2 includes all or part of Clarendon Hills, Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Glen Ellyn, Hinsdale, Lisle, Lombard, Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace, Villa Park, Westmont and Woodridge.

Hard work

Don Puchalski, picked by DuPage County Board Chairman Robert Schillerstrom to fill a vacancy last fall, credited his District 1 primary win to old-fashioned hard work.

Puchalski soundly defeated Republicans Richard “Chip” Collis and Paul DeMichele.

 “Every weekend I was walking a different precinct,” the 51-year-old Addison resident said. “I also had a lot of support from family, friends and neighbors.”

Puchalski will face Democrat Robert Peickert in the fall. Incumbent board member Yolanda Campuzano, who ran unopposed in the primary, will face Democrat Rita Gonzalez.

Puchalski said he plans to run on the county’s record.

“The county board works well,” he said. “There’s no controversy. And Schillerstrom has done a great job.”

District 1 includes all or part of Addison, Bensenville, Bloomingdale, Elmhurst, Itasca, Lombard, Roselle, Villa Park and Wood Dale.

Group reveals five barriers to affordable homes -

(DuPage Cournty Board Member Brien Sheahan's position on this issue: QUESTION: 4. Do you think that DuPage County is experiencing a problem with regard to the availability of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income residents? If yes, what role, if any, should the County Board play to preserve or promote affordable housing stock?  ANSWER: I do not believe that real estate prices in DuPage County are a problem. To the contrary, high real estate valuation reflects the demand and desirability of homes in our DuPage County communities—this is positive. Furthermore, the growth in home values (often a family’s largest asset) increases household wealth in a significant and important way. The housing market performs as it should.  While housing “affordability” is often cited as an area of concern in DuPage County it is essential to put the issue in perspective. Providing housing vouchers under federal affordability guidelines for every person who could be eligible (approximately 30,000 out of nearly 1 million people living in DuPage County) would cost about $100 million dollars annually—or nearly 80 percent of the county’s entire operating budget.  What the county can do—and what it does do—with the limited resources available (approximately $8 million a year) is to place a priority on subsidizing housing with federal funds for the elderly and disabled. I strongly support this prioritization. There is also a growing movement for employers to help subsidize housing for lower income employees, creating an opportunity for the county to partner with the private sector and stretch available housing dollars. Source:

Five barriers to affordable housing in DuPage County — ranging from public perception to high land costs — were identified by community leaders.

A group of 160 gathered Wednesday at Benedictine University in Lisle for a symposium called “Homeownership: Benchmark for a Vital Community.”

Here are the barriers identified at the symposium:

•Community perception of affordable housing, opposition to it and the need for education about its benefits and necessity.

•High costs of land and construction.

•Zoning and building codes and the lack of incentives for developers.

•How government officials perceive affordable housing and the need for them to work with non-profits and developers.

•The lack of involvement by employers with the issue and the low wages earned by some workers.

Affordable housing is a crucial issue because so many significant groups, including teachers, firefighters, young families and senior citizens, struggle to own homes here.

Rev. Melody Eastman of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Wheaton added another group to the list: beginning ministers.

“In our denomination we pay first-call pastors in the metropolitan area about $30,000 a year, and traditionally congregations add $15,000 for housing. But in Wheaton a home would cost $38,000 a year, more than the salary,” she said.

“We are a smaller congregation, and we can’t afford that. Many first-call pastors cannot afford to accept a call in Wheaton.”

Five people volunteered to lead the committees targeted at removing some of the barriers.

They are Debra Olson, a DuPage County Board member who is a director of the DuPage Homeownership Center; William Carroll, president, Benedictine University; Paul Colgan, Colgan Public Affairs, Chicago; Phil Passan, Kingsland Properties, Wheaton, and Liz Corry, Wheaton councilwoman.

The work groups hope to report with action plans in November.

Organizers of the symposium included the DuPage Housing Action Coalition and the DuPage Homeownership Center.

Ramey, Fenner, Fuesting: Tense relationship thaws some after primary -

The campaign for the Republican nomination in the 55th state House district grew bitter, but the winning and losing candidates played nice Wednesday after it was all over.

The victor and incumbent Randy Ramey, a Wayne Township trustee and chairman of the township GOP, pledged to work on behalf of all people in his district.

His closest opponent, Carol Stream Trustee Pamela Fenner, pledged to support Ramey “because it is my responsibility as a Republican committeeman.”

The third candidate, West Chicago attorney Matt Fuesting, pledged to use his experiences to become a better public servant.

But the hotly contested race left scars with both Ramey and Fenner, underscoring a tense relationship not only between the two candidates but the agencies they serve.

“I have no problem with (Carol Stream). They seem to have a problem with us,” said Ramey, who pledged to step down from his township post at the end of the month. He is still on leave “for political reasons” as an outreach worker for the Illinois secretary of state.

“The relationship between the village and Wayne Township has been strained for years,” Fenner said. “It’s hard for me to understand why these people hold such grudges.”

Fenner, who was sued by Ramey last week for defamation over a campaign flier, said the bickering between the two agencies extends back to 2002, when she helped John Millner win the 55th District seat against Ramey.

The relationship was again frayed in January 2005, as Carol Stream Trustee Tom Shanahan made an unsuccessful write-in bid for the GOP nomination as Wayne Township highway commissioner against incumbent Ken Spitz.

Spitz took advantage of Carol Stream’s public hearings on a proposed waste transfer station at the time by circulating fliers alleging the village’s vote “was a done deal.”

“If there is — there obviously is — a strained relationship, it’s not serving either community,” he said Wednesday.

The political bickering between the two agencies was partly to blame for a breakdown of a planned $5.2 million joint reconstruction project of Fair Oaks Road.

Both agencies have blamed each other for why the township’s portion of the project is on hold. Carol Stream is set to begin paving sections of the road under village control this spring.

Fenner said mending fences between the two agencies will be key in the coming months, as the village prepares to deal with providing water utility services to several residents living in unincorporated land with tainted water wells.

“We’re going to be digging up township roads to get them water,” she said. “To provide those services, we need cooperation.”

But neither Spitz nor Ramey sounded hopeful about the two agencies working together to resolve the utility needs of dozens of residents living along unincorporated sections of Judith Lane and Riviera Court.

“This is a county-driven issue,” Spitz said. “If people need clean water, I’m not going to stand in the way.”

Ramey said Carol Stream leaders have misled residents on the water issue.

DuPage District 5: Wozniak may ask for recount after losing election by 69 votes -

Unofficially, Joe Wozniak’s quest to become a DuPage County board member came up 69 votes short.

Now the 63-year-old Naperville real estate consultant officially wants to know if that’s the case.

Wozniak may request a ballot recount for the four-way District 5 race where he finished second to Lisle's Michael Connelly.

“I’ll decide in a few days,” he said. “But with the problems that they had at the board of elections, they were delayed in the vote counts.”

According to unofficial tallies, Connelly had 4,314 votes and Wozniak 4,245 votes. The remaining two candidates, Richard Tarulis and E. “Erin” Busche earned 3,558 votes and 2,099 votes, respectively.

DuPage election officials said they plan to canvass all the results on April 11. Wozniak has until five days after that to request a recount.

Connelly said he believes the race was close because all four of the candidates shared similar views on spending and traffic congestion.

“I think all of us did well in Aurora, Lisle and Naperville,” he said. “I just happened to prevail at the end.”

The four-way race was created when incumbent Robert Heap ran unsuccessfully for county treasurer instead of seeking re-election. No Democratic candidate has filed to run in the district, which includes all or parts of Aurora, Lisle, Naperville, Warrenville and Woodridge.


Grand jury indicts ex-DuPage worker in embezzlement case

WHEATON — A DuPage County grand jury returned an 11-count indictment of former state's attorney employee Deborah S. O'Brien, 42, of Addison, on charges she embezzled more than $500,000 from the county's Victims Restitution Fund.

According to a news release, DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett, elected the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor on Tuesday, and special prosecutor Charles Colburn made the announcement Wednesday. Colburn was brought in on Birkett's request, since the investigation focused on an employee.

The investigation began earlier this month when an audit by County auditor Jim Rasins revealed evidence of theft. O'Brien, who was the coordinator of restitution payment, is alleged to have forged signatures on checks and deposited them into her own account, according to the release.

One charge, the theft of over $100,000 from a government entity, is a Class X felony punishable by six to 30 years in prison. She is also charged with one count of stealing more than half a million dollars, three counts of forgery, four counts of official misconduct and one count of operating a continuing crime enterprise. All are felony charges, according to the release.

"While my staff and I have been betrayed by this alleged abuse of the public trust, I am extremely proud of my staff for their outstanding efforts to discover the theft and hold Deborah O'Brien accountable," Birkett said in a statement.

O'Brien's next scheduled court date is April 3.

DuPage GOP chair Dillard ecstatic over Topinka, Birkett wins - Kathy Cichon

Although some candidates won big Tuesday, voter turnout throughout DuPage County was a bit below average.

"In a non-presidential election year, turnout would average around, sadly, just 30 percent," said state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale.

Less than 28 percent of voters went to the polls in DuPage County on Tuesday. Of those who did, 18.8 percent were Republican and 8.5 percent were Democrats.

Although the turnout was a bit below average, Dillard said it was still higher than most of the state. Overall, he said is satisfied with the results.

"As chairman of the DuPage County Republican Party, I'm very pleased — in fact elated — with the election," he said. "Our native son Joe Birkett overwhelmingly won the lieutenant governor's race and Judy Baar Topinka, who used to represent the eastern part of DuPage County, in the state is the gubernatorial nominee.

Dillard also said Sheriff John Zaruba won in a landslide with more than 70 percent of the vote.

"I'm also pleased that Republican ballots were taken at a more than 2 to 1 margin over Democrats, once again proving the DuPage County Republican Party remains strong."

Republicans came out in strong numbers in Will County, too, with more than half the ballots cast coming from members of the GOP.

Turnout up in Will

In Will County, voter turnout was at 31.6 percent. In the previous two elections, County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots said turnout was at 28 percent.

"That's because we had so many referendum questions," she said. "And those schools were really working hard to get those referendums passed."

Schultz Voots said she was pleased with the primary.

"Everything went well," she said. "Overall we had a great election."

The only glitch happened earlier in the day, she said. At one point, one of the polling places in Lockport lost power for a short time.

"At first, I thought would have to go out and get generators," Schultz Voots said.

But the machines have a six-hour battery backup, so people were still able to vote, she said. The outage lasted about 30 minutes.

Because the entire county uses optical scan ballots, results came in quickly, Schultz Voots said. The last results came in at 10:40 p.m., and that was because one of the election judges left the tabulator at the polling place instead of bringing it back to the office, she said.

This election also marked the opening of a fourth branch of the clerk's office in Plainfield.

"We got the results in that area even quicker," Schultz Voots said.

Instead of election judges throughout Will driving all the returns to the Joliet office, they could take them to the satellite offices in Bolingbrook, Monee and Plainfield.

"That eliminated some of the traffic," she said.

New machines run smoothly

Although DuPage County Election Commission Executive Director Robert Saar could not be reached for comment Wednesday, Dillard said he had not about any problems with the new electronic voting equipment. The only trouble he encountered was early in the evening.

"It doesn't have anything to do with electronic equipment," he said. "The computer server to the Internet crashed for 30 to 40 minutes at the beginning of the night in Wheaton. But that's not related to the electronic machines."

Connelly, Henry earn DuPage seats in tight primaries

It came down to the wire — and the wee hours of Wednesday morning — in two of DuPage County's contested primaries.

According to unofficial results, Lisle resident Michael Connelly won by just 69 votes to earn the Republican nomination for the four-year District 5 seat on the County Board. With all 113 precincts reporting, Connelly's 4,314 votes beat out Joseph M. Wozniak's 4,245. Richard J. Tarulis took 3,558 votes while E. "Erin" Busche earned 2,099.

And in the race for DuPage County treasurer, a neck-and-neck race between County Board member Robert "Bob" Heap of Naperville and forest district board member Gwen Henry went to Henry. The Wheaton resident earned the GOP nomination with a 1,162-vote win — 43,247 votes to 42,085, according to unofficial results.

District 5 board

Connelly, 41, is an attorney with a private practice in Hinsdale.
He is serving a second term on the Lisle Village Board. His victory marks the first time in 20 years a Lisle resident has been seated on the County Board.

"I'm just happy that I've won precincts in all of the cities, both north side and south side of Naperville, and Lisle," Connelly said late Tuesday.

Wozniak, 63, is a real estate consultant and a trustee on the DuPage County Regional School Board.

"I'm going to survey the possibility of a recount," Wozniak said Wednesday.

Wozniak said he believes the vote was split between him and Richard Tarulis, and as a result "gave away the election" to the "only person who isn't a member of the Republican Party."

Although Connelly is a registered Republican, Wozniak pointed out that the Lisle attorney isn't a precinct committeeman and doesn't work for the local party.

Contributing to the split vote, Wozniak said, was the pairing of Tarulis, who was running for the four-year term in the district with County Board member James Healy of Naperville, who ran unchallenged for the two-year term in District 5.

"I have no doubt I would have succeeded in that race immediately by hundreds of votes had they not teamed up," Wozniak said.

Wozniak said he is grateful to the citizens who voted for him, and that he was hoping to be there for district residents. In particular, he wanted to work for lower taxes and better commuter rail service, he said.

"I have not forgotten what the needs of the community are," Wozniak said. "I intend to follow through regardless."

DuPage County treasurer

Late Tuesday night, Heap and Henry both said they didn't expect such a close race.

"It's frustrating so far," Heap told The Sun. "Everything's so tight, and we're just waiting for the outer townships to get in to the Election Commission."

Henry held a slim lead for much of the evening, though often only by a few hundred votes.

"We had a number of people doing trains and literature and phone calling and phone banks," she said. "We have good friends and good volunteers."

Along with serving on the County Board, Heap is a partner in a Naperville law firm.

Henry is a former Wheaton mayor and City Council member who currently serves on the DuPage County Forest Preserve District board. She also is a partner in an accounting firm.

Birkett, with half the GOP vote, poised to take on Quinn - Tracy Swartz
Early results gave DuPage County's top prosecutor a double-digit lead over an Elgin legislator and two other Republicans seeking the GOP nod for lieutenant governor.

Joe Birkett had 50 percent of the primary vote to state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger's 30 percent, with 54 percent of the precincts reporting. Kane County Recorder Sandy Wegman had 14 percent, while Thomson attorney Lawrence Bruckner garnered 6 percent.

"I've felt very good about the race since the beginning," said Birkett, 51. "I've been picking up encouragement and enthusiasm around the state."

At several downstate stops Monday, Birkett championed his leadership and teamwork skills and his role in crafting several pieces of criminal-justice legislation.

If elected lieutenant governor, Birkett said he would focus on homeland security and rooting out public corruption.

Birkett and Rauschenberger, 49, have dominated the race for the state's No. 2 spot, a position with few constitutional responsibilities. Both campaigned on restoring fiscal and ethical integrity to Illinois, though they have vastly different experience. Birkett has been DuPage County state's attorney since 1996.

He narrowly lost the 2002 state attorney general's race during which Democrat Lisa Madigan criticized his prosecutorial skills, especially in the case of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico, who was abducted from her Naperville home in 1983 and murdered.

But Birkett, an ex-boxer, shook off that defeat. He toyed with a gubernatorial run yet favored partnering with Judy Baar Topinka to work as a "turnaround team."

Meanwhile, Rauschenberger teamed with Chicago businessman Ron Gidwitz. A state senator for more than 13 years, Rauschenberger is known for his budgetary experience and negotiating skills.

The two lesser-known candidates, Wegman and Bruckner, both called for eliminating government waste.

The winner will face Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn in November.

West Chicago mayor Mike Fortner grabs path to state House - Tim Waldorf

If Tuesday's results carry through to November, West Chicago Mayor Michael Fortner will take Rep. Randy Hultgren's seat in the Illinois House, and Hultgren will sit in Sen. Peter Roskam's seat in the state Senate.

Fortner, a 47-year-old physics professor at Northern Illinois University, defeated Pamela Mitroff, a 53-year-old businesswoman from Wheaton, in the race for the 95th District Illinois House seat. With 78 of 90 precincts reporting, Fornter, who currently doesn't face opposition from a Democratic candidate, won election 5,341 votes to 3,785, according to unofficial results from Tuesday's primary election.

The 95th District Illinois House seat is held by Hultgren, who sought and won the Republican nomination to Roskam's state Senate seat Tuesday, defeating Naperville City Councilman Dick Furstenau. Roskam is running as the Republican candidate to replace U.S. Rep.
Henry Hyde in the state's 6th Congressional District race.

Fortner said "experience counts" and that in this election, it put him over the top.

"As mayor, I've been able to look at where actions of the state affect the lives of residents of the 95th District," he said.

Throughout his campaign, Fortner, who has served as mayor of West Chicago since 2001, stressed the importance of reforming the public education system in the state and improving transportation throughout the suburbs.

Fortner said the state needs comprehensive education reform that decreases reliance on property taxes, improves equity and improves the public's understanding of how their schools are spending funds and meeting educational standards. And he said the state needs keep its highways in good shape by maximizing use of federal road funds and keeping the road fund free from raids to pay for other general expenses.

Mitroff serves as secretary of both the Milton Township Republican Central Committee and the Illinois State Association of Health Underwriters. She the state needs to control its spending, stimulate job growth and address pressing health-care concerns.

Mitroff could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.


Thank you for joining me in the arena and daring greatly - Jim Oberweis
(3/2206) At 12:30 this morning, when the numbers were clear, I called Judy Topinka and extended my congratulations on her nomination as the Republican candidate for Governor of Illinois.
Last night and throughout today, I have spoken to Republican leadership and members of the press and media about the need for Republicans to stand up against the culture of corruption.  Four years of Rod Blagojevich has been disastrous for Illinois.  We must do everything we can to limit him to one terrible term, and we are much more likely to be successful if we take strong and clear stands to root out corruption.  I want you to know that I am committed to doing all I can to help fight this corrupt political system in Illinois.  I ask you to keep the faith and stay engaged in the battle.
In the late hours last night, I had a chance to thank the thousands of people who helped our campaign.  I thought you might enjoy an opportunity to read those remarks.  Following those is a statement of encouragement sent to me by a friend and supporter.  The words are from President Theodore Roosevelt, the Great Republican Reformer, but I send them to you in the spirit of thanksgiving for all your hard work.
When you do the right thing, there are no regrets.
To the thousands who helped our campaign to renew and reform Illinois state government, I say from the bottom of my heart, thank you...thank you...thank you.

When I began traveling this state over a year ago, Illinoisans of all political stripes told me that Illinois desperately needed a change.

Small business owners, truck drivers, homemakers and state employees told me that they wanted a governor of whom they could be proud and a state government which they could trust.

When I declared my candidacy for governor, people asked me why in the world would I want to continue trying to make a difference in Illinois state government.

Well, tonight you can see the reason why. I have five children and thirteen grandchildren, all of whom call Illinois home.

I want my children and grandchildren to have opportunities for good jobs and great educations. I want your children to have those same opportunities, and I want all of Illinois to get out from under the job killing weight of our accumulated debt.

Illinois can no longer afford a government that buys votes and enriches political insiders with more and more spending fueled by more borrowing and higher taxes.

I believe the people of Illinois deserve a government that operates honestly and ethically, because I believe the people of Illinois are honest and ethical people.

I believe the people of Illinois deserve a government that is pro-life and pro-family, because the people of Illinois know that life is a gift and marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman.

These are the principles which motivated our campaign and these are the values for which a majority of Illinoisans stand firmly committed. They are principles and values for which I will stand firm.

Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is a day when the Republican Party will need to begin coming together for the good of the people of Illinois.

Tonight, some things are clear about how this party can come together. It is clear that a majority of voters want reforms that break this culture of corruption and this cycle of cash going from companies to politicians and back to companies in the form of lucrative state contracts.

It is clear that a majority of voters want a party that stands for innocent human life and for traditional marriage.

I assure you here tonight and all of you at home who voted for me tonight, as this party seeks to come together I will do everything I can to make sure that the Illinois Republican Party and its candidates stand for honest and ethical government and for the common sense, pro-family values shared by most Illinoisans.

Tonight, I want to thank you for your support, for your votes, and for the faith you have that regular people from all walks of life can impact state government.

I want to thank Elaine for raising 5 great kids. I want to thank my children Jenny, Trish, Jim, Julie and Joe and their spouses Chip, Matt, Renata, Josh and Jenn. I want to thank my thirteen grandchildren...I haven't had too much time to spend with my family, and I look forward to catching up.

I want to thank my campaign chairman Congressman Ed Derwinski and my finance chairman Jerry Rich. I want to say thank you to my grassroots field director Jim Leahy and our regional coordinators Kathy Gallanis-Matern, Richard Cape, Rob Winchester, and Jim and Joyce Patrick. I want to say thank you to all of my field coordinators, especially Angel Garcia and Frank Penn in Chicago, Judy McCurdy in suburban Cook, Judy Martini in Lake, Matt Barber in DuPage, Yvonne Arentz in Kane, Daena Hinkelman and Tracy Reardon in Will, Jo Miller in Champaign, Michael Galbreath in Madison, Jay Jay Rodriguez and Rosanna Pullido in Winnebago, Joel Linderoth in Northwestern Illinois, Richard Evans and Kathy Kuchta in McHenry, Ray Choudry in Rock Island, and so many others downstate, especially Liz Eilers, Michael Schlau, J.C. Hagen, Jeffrey Isbell and Joe Grigoletti.

I want to thank my central campaign team Mike Stuckert, Shari Martin, Jenny DuMont, Brad Roseberry, Lisa Quinn and Joe Wiegand. I want to say a special thank you to my driver and my pilot, Kevin Schaefer... boy have we seen a lot of this beautiful state!

I want to say thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who helped a spread a message of hope and renewal.

I want to say thank you to Jack Roeser, Family Taxpayers Network, Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum, Virtue PAC, and the dozens of grass roots organizations that embraced our campaign and put their time, talent and treasure behind our effort.

I want to say thank you to the employees and customers of Oberweis Asset Management and Oberweis Ice Cream and Dairy Stores. Our people are the best people in the country, our mutual fund is number one in the nation and our ice cream is the best in the world!

Finally, I want to say thank you to Julie fiancée.

To the people of Illinois I say keep the faith. One day soon, we will have the clean, honest, competent, efficient and pro family government we deserve. I hope you'll join me in the effort to achieve that for our children and our grandchildren.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."  Theodore Roosevelt


Thank You!

I want to take this opportunity to thank you and the tens of thousands of Illinois Republicans who supported me during my campaign for Governor.

While success is usually measured by victory and we fell short, I believe we waged a winning campaign. I am extremely proud of the positive campaign we waged to rebuild the Republican Party in Illinois and to rebuild Illinois. I have absolutely no regrets, and I treasure each new friend I made while talking with Republicans over the last 14 months of this campaign.

My campaign ran a race that gained us widespread respect because we stayed positive, talking about the issues that affect Illinoisans today rather than attacking other candidates. We offered plans for tax relief, for bringing jobs back to Illinois, for battling the culture of corruption in government and for protecting mainstream conservative values that make Illinois strong.

With only a fraction of the campaign spending of others and a lack of name recognition because I have not run in previous statewide elections, I believe we gained more than anyone else. We gained respect because my campaign was about something bigger than just me or one person. It was about making people’s lives better, it was about building a strong Republican Party, and it was about bringing common sense back to Illinois government.

I attended the Illinois Republican Party’s Unity Breakfast Wednesday morning and pledged to support our party’s standard bearers – Judy Baar Topinka and Joe Birkett – and the entire GOP ticket. I hope you will join me in those efforts. We must unite as a party, we must come together as Republicans to defeat Rod Blagojevich in November. Illinois cannot afford another four years of Rod Blagojevich.

Again, my humblest thanks to all of you who supported me financially, who volunteered to make phone calls and put up yard signs, who offered a word of encouragement, who e-mailed friends and to all who voted for me and a better Illinois where we can ensure prosperity for our citizens, their children and their grandchildren.

Topinka and Oberweis: Union or Intersection? - Jeff Berkowitz 
Jim Oberweis, who came in second to State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka for the Republican nomination for Governor [38% to 32%] , declined to endorse Judy this morning at the GOP Unity Breakfast at the W hotel on North Lake Shore Drive. Oberweis said that a request by Topinka for Bob Kjellander to step down from his position as Illinois’ representative on the Republican National Committee would be a sufficient, but not a necessary, condition for him to endorse Topinka. Oberweis did not make clear which alternative actions or statements by Topinka might suffice for him to endorse her, other than that they would relate to his general interest in moving the Party toward “reform.” Oberweis did state that he would not support a third party candidate for Governor, if one were to step forward.

Somewhat conspicuous by his absence at the GOP Unity event was Topinka booster, mentor and popular two term former Governor, Jim Edgar. Also not present was the much discussed and much maligned Bob Kjellander. Perhaps neither wanted to overshadow Judy in her day of triumph.

Two Illinois conservatives who have been feuding since anyone can remember, Family Pac’s Paul Caprio and mega millionaire and the driving force behind the Family Taxpayers Network, Jack Roeser, were also not at the Unity Event. Roeser and his FTN were the primary contributors to Oberweis’ campaign. Caprio backed Brady, although not nearly to the same level of financial support as Roeser gave to Oberweis, who himself is worth 10 to 50 million dollars.

The other three candidates for Governor, State Senator Bill Brady, Ron Gidwitz and Andy Martin were also introduced, with Brady and Gidwitz following Oberweis in making some brief comments.

Oberweis, although not endorsing Topinka, had the best line of the morning, as he started somberly:

I am deeply disappointed, not with last night, but with this morning. This is a Unity Breakfast--- Where’s the milk, Andy?

There’s coffee. There’s orange juice. Where’s the milk? [The joke brought the house down. A little more humor like that during the campaign and Jim might have won].

Oberweis went on to say: I hope the state can withstand four years [of Governor Blagojevich]. I know the state cannot withstand eight years and we have to make sure that that does not happen. Get out there and work.

That was as close as Oberweis came to an endorsement of Topinka.

The entire Republican State-wide ticket was there and introduced at the event, by event moderator and State GOP Chairman, Andy McKenna, Jr. Topinka’s running mate, Lt. Gov. Nominee and DuPage State’s Attorney Joe Birkett (51%), spoke to the crowd and introduced two of his opponents, Bruckner (6%) and State Senator Steve Rauschenberger (30%)—who Joe was quite gracious about in his remarks. Sandy Wegman, who surprisingly polled 13 %, was somewhat conspicuous by her absence.

8th Cong. Dist. Republican Primary nominee David McSweeney spoke briefly and was gracious to Kathy Salvi , who was in the room and who had come in second to McSweeney [43% to 33%] in what had became a bitter, nasty primary in the last few weeks. State Rep. Bob Churchill, who finished third in the 8th CD with 16 % was not at the Unity event.

McSweeney will take on first term Democrat Congresswoman Melissa Bean in a district that went 56% to 44% for President Bush in 2004, but booted out 35 year 8th CD Republican incumbent Phil Crane, who many thought had stayed way too long at the Party. McSweeney ran against Crane in the ’98 Republican Primary, as did Peter Fitzgerald four years before that.

Cong. Bean seems to view herself as a moderate, independent Democrat and she is described by many as straddling issues to fit her district in a way not unlike Republican five year incumbent Cong. Mark Kirk in the North Shore’s 10th CD, a district that went for Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry 53-47 in 2004.

Of course, McSweeney disagrees about the Cong. Bean part, arguing she does not fit the 8th Cong. District, having voted, he said, 83% of the time with her Democrat Party, and having said the two congressmen she admires most are Democrats Rahm Emanuel and Barney Frank, who McSweeney said definitely do not represent the values of the 8th CD.

State Senator Peter Roskam, who had an uncontested Republican primary in the 6th CD, spoke briefly and mentioned he had knocked on 3700 doors in the District. Roskam faces retired Major Tammy Duckworth, who won a tough Democratic Primary [43% to 40 %] over Christine Cegelis. Cegelis had held Cong. Hyde to a twelve point margin of victory in 2002. Hyde, who had been in office for 32 years, created the open seat by announcing earlier last year that he was stepping down.

Duckworth, a double amputee Iraq War Veteran, who lives in a portion of Hoffman Estates that is slightly outside the 6th CD, was recruited by Senator Durbin and DCCC Chairman Emanuel to make the run. She received massive financial and other assistance from those two powerful national political figures, as well Senator Obama and many other national pols.

It will be interesting to see if the Democrats in the 6th CD can heal their internal wounds, with many Cegelis supporters feeling they were over-run by “outsiders.” Supporters of third place finisher, Evangelical Professor Lindy Scott [15%], share many of those feelings of resentment at Duckworth and the National Democratic Party who sponsored her efforts.

On the other hand, Duckworth is a national celebrity with tons of cash from outside the District to finance her campaign. Roskam, who himself has over a million dollars of cash in hand, probably would have preferred Cegelis as an opponent, but Peter is no slouch when it comes to campaigning and he will not want for national support, with Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman stopping by Addison and Bolingbrook this Friday afternoon and evening to help fill the Roskam war chest [I’m guessing Kjellander will put in an appearance at those events].

Ladies and Gentleman, let the games begin. The 6th CD and 8th CD will be interesting, tough, spirited campaigns, with both getting lots of national attention. Ain’t politics fun.

The Illinois Governor’s race? We’ll see.
Illinois GOP 'unity' breakfast serves up some discord - 
The theme of the day was unity, but top Illinois Republicans fell somewhat short of that standard Wednesday as they gathered for a “unity breakfast” to celebrate voters’ decision to make state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka the party’s nominee for governor against Democrat Rod Blagojevich.

Not only Ms. Topinka but all four of her primary foes attended the breakfast at a downtown Chicago hotel, and all to one degree or another echoed her call to come together against Mr. Blagojevich.

“No one runs alone. The word team does not include the letter ‘I’”, Ms. Topinka told GOP leaders. The primary may have been “a little bruising,” she continued, but, “We have to pull together as a team.”

But just before she spoke, conservative dairy owner Jim Oberweis, who got 32% of the vote to Ms. Topinka’s 38%, told reporters that, while he will back her, she’s going to have to do some things “to get my enthusiastic support.”

Mr. Oberweis suggested Ms. Topinka pick up on his call for reforming not only state government but the Illinois Republican Party by removing lobbyist Robert Kjellander as the party’s national committeeman. Even if she does so, “I think it will be hard” for Ms. Topinka to energize the party’s culturally conservative field workers, he added.

Ms. Topinka, replied that other party figures either will back her or they won’t, but she won’t accept any conditions.

Chicago businessman Ron Gidwitz, who like Mr. Oberweis attacked Ms. Topinka’s ties to the party’s old guard during the primary campaign, said Ms. Topinka has his full support. To underline the message, he personally handed her a check for $5,000 for her campaign.

But Mr. Gidwitz, too, repeated called for Mr. Kjellander to step down, and said the treasurer “is going to have a hard time” raising the $20 million or more needed to stay even with Mr. Blagojevich. “She’s never been able to raise money.”

Mr. Kjellander’s unofficial role is as conduit for the Illinois Party to the Bush White House. He is expected to play a large role in helping Ms. Topinka get national Republican money for her campaign here.

Another candidate, Sen. Steve Rauschenberger of Elgin, agreed with Mr. Oberweis that motivating conservatives “is going to be a challenge” for Ms. Topinka. “She needs their work, not just their vote,” said Mr. Rauschenberger, who finished behind DuPage County State's Attorney Joseph Birkett in the race for lieutenant governor.

Near-final election totals showed that Ms. Topinka put together her victory with big margins over Mr. Oberweis in suburban DuPage County, in the city of Chicago, and in some Downstate areas, such as Springfield’s Sangamon County, where state worker unions endorsed her. Mr. Oberweis did well in most other suburban areas and smaller Downstate Counties, but not well enough to win.

Blagojevich, Topinka give preview of fall race - AP

With their parties' nominations in hand, Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Republican state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka began trading barbs - giving voters a preview of their campaigns for governor this fall.

Separately, Blagojevich announced Wednesday morning that he plans to propose an increase in the state’s minimum wage to $7.50 an hour.

The governor said his administration's investments in proposals like health care for children and universal preschool are moving Illinois forward and away from the priorities of the previous Republican administration.

"Making investments and making them from the right places is what governing is ... We've been able to make those decisions without raising taxes and by digging ourselves out of a fiscal mess that (former) Gov. (George) Ryan and Ms. Topinka created," Blagojevich said on WGN-TV.

But Topinka, who appeared in the same televised segment but not in the same studio, said Blagojevich is creating programs without the money to pay for them.

"I think it's very, very easy to rattle off all the things you want to do. I mean, the governor probably wants to launch a space shuttle, too, but that doesn't mean we can pay for it," Topinka said. "You can't drive the state into what would be the state version of bankruptcy."

It's a race that pits the first-term governor's record on education and health care against claims that he mismanaged state money and used his office to reward political pals.

Although Blagojevich easily won the Democratic nomination, primary challenger Edwin Eisendrath got more votes than pre-election polls indicated, suggesting the first-term governor could be vulnerable in November.

In claiming victory Tuesday night, Blagojevich quickly went after Topinka, a three-term state treasurer and former lawmaker.

"I don't know what she's thinking when she says no to health care for kids," Blagojevich said. Topinka says she will review Blagojevich's universal health care program for children to make sure the state can afford it.

In his first campaign stop Wednesday, Blagojevich also planned to propose increasing the state's minimum wage by $1 to $7.50 an hour. In his prepared remarks, Blagojevich said in contrast to his support for the state's last wage increase two years ago, Topinka "sat on the sidelines."

Joined by her running mate, DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett, at a rally at a downtown Chicago hotel on Tuesday night, Topinka promised to take the fight to Blagojevich.

"Together, we are going to go out there and make sure we give Rod an early retirement," Topinka said to cheers and applause.

Topinka's closest challenger, Aurora dairy magnate Jim Oberweis, called Topinka early Wednesday to congratulate her, Oberweis campaign manager Joe Wiegand said. Earlier, Oberweis wasn't clear about whether he would support Topinka, suggesting his backing could be conditional.

With 11,012 of 11,700 precincts counted, Topinka had 38 percent and Oberweis had 32 percent. State Sen. Bill Brady had 19 percent, Chicago businessman Ron Gidwitz had about 11 percent and Internet journalist Martin was at less than 1 percent.

On the Democratic side, Blagojevich captured 70 percent of the vote to Eisendrath's 30 percent with 11,012 of 11,700 precincts counted in unofficial returns.

During the campaign, Eisendrath had accused the governor of ethical lapses and mismanaging the state.

"You afforded me the chance to bring a different kind of politics to the state, a respectful politics," Eisendrath said in conceding.

Blagojevich has said he's done nothing unethical by giving state jobs and contracts to political supporters.

The Republican candidates for governor ended their campaigns as a federal jury continued to deliberate in a major corruption case against the state's last GOP governor, George Ryan, who left office in 2003.

During a testy primary campaign, the GOP candidates focused their attacks on more than the Democratic governor. They turned on each other.

Gidwitz and Oberweis ran ads critical of Topinka. Brady and Oberweis jabbed at one another in a televised debate. Topinka called some of her opponents "morons."

Brady, in his concession speech, talked about the need to rebuild the Illinois GOP.

"We're not giving up," Brady said his election night gathering in Normal. "This is just the first step in a long process to rebuilding Illinois."

In his concession speech, Gidwitz talked about how he traveled around the state during the campaign in a maroon van talking to voters.

"And from Rockford to Marion, Quincy to Charleston, the concerns were the same," he said. "People wanted a government that, in fact, works for them and not for the insiders who line the pockets of our politicians."


DIERSEN HEADLINE: Erickson promotes Brady

Brady's 3rd-place showing positions him for other runs - Kurt Erickson

NORMAL - State Sen. Bill Brady's long-shot bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination fell short Tuesday, but he's not ruling out taking aim at higher office again.

But supporters said the 12-year veteran of the Illinois General Assembly succeeded in establishing his credentials as a viable candidate in upcoming elections.

By staying on the sidelines of an otherwise bare-knuckled fight between Judy Baar Topinka, Jim Oberweis and Ron Gidwitz, the 44-year-old real estate developer positioned himself as a possible contender against U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin in 2008 or for another run for governor in 2010.

"I just don't think he had enough exposure," said Dick Primm of Normal, who was among more than 100 family members and supporters who gathered at Brady's campaign party Tuesday night at the Holiday Inn Express in Normal. "If nothing else, this race set him up nice for next time."

Brady conceded defeat at 11:10 p.m. when vote totals showed him trailing Topinka and Oberweis.

With 7,903 of 11,700 precincts - 68 percent - counted statewide, Topinka had 38 percent of the total with 222,199 votes. Following her were: Oberweis with 188,995 votes, or 32 percent; Brady with 111,504, or 19 percent; Ron Gidwitz with 63,021, or 11 percent; and Andy Martin with 4,821, or 1 percent.

Brady would not speculate on his future while the votes still were being tallied.

"I intend to be part of the leadership of the Republican party as we move forward," Brady said. "We're not giving up. This is just the first step."

While the other GOP candidates duked it out with negative advertisements and name-calling, Brady said he called for unity.

"Life's too short to go negative," he said.

Brady had hoped for a groundswell of support from downstate voters and early returns showed him faring well in counties in and around his Senate district. His home county of McLean, for example, was backing him with about 60 percent of the vote.

As for his next move, Brady is in the middle of a four-year term in the state Senate, meaning he could run for governor and lose, but still retain his seat in the General Assembly.

DIERSEN HEADLINE: Wills promotes Brady

Beyond votes, Brady among winners - Christopher Wills

CHICAGO - Sure, elections are all about candidates laying out thoughtful positions so that the people, in their wisdom, can chart a course for the future.

But let's face it, they're also about who wins and who loses - and not just the obvious people like gubernatorial candidates Rod Blagojevich and Judy Baar Topinka.


Bill Brady

The Bloomington state senator proved to be a good campaigner - affable and quick on his feet. He angered some conservatives by staying in the race and splitting the anti-Topinka vote, but he appears to be in a strong position to run in the future.

The establishment

Voters picked insiders Blagojevich and Topinka, as well as congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth, a political newcomer backed by Democratic leaders. The establishment even eked out a win for Cook County Board President John Stroger, hospitalized after a serious stroke.

Barack Obama

Obama, his Midas touch still working, was key to the major exception to the political establishment's victories. The U.S. senator starred in ads that helped Alexi Giannoulias win the treasurer nomination over the Democratic Party's chosen candidate, Paul Mangieri.

Andy Martin

By churning out news releases and lawsuits, the perennial candidate got himself included in several gubernatorial debates and numerous news stories. Martin might have picked up less than 1 percent of the vote, but he made himself into a footnote in Illinois political history.

Conservative Republicans

They demonstrated their numbers in the GOP primary when the two conservative candidates combined for slightly more votes than the two moderates. That could energize the right to unify behind one candidate next time around.


Conservative Republicans

On the other hand, conservative candidates and activists spun conspiracy theories, bitterly attacked opponents and failed to win anything but a lieutenant governor's race that featured two conservatives.

Jim Oberweis

Three campaigns, three second-place finishes for the Aurora dairy owner. His campaign gaffes over the years include comparing anti-abortion laws to the Taliban's religious zealotry, running an over-the-top ad against illegal immigrants and proposing that candidates draw straws instead of letting voters decide.

Ron Gidwitz

Gidwitz had the money, experience and positions that, on paper, added up to a strong candidate. But he never connected with voters and ended up spending millions of dollars just to finish fourth.

Blagojevich critics

Polls and Tuesday's election results suggest a deep current of discontent with the Democratic governor, but no major candidate challenged him. The person who did step forward, Edwin Eisendrath, ran a campaign that was so disorganized and underfunded that Blagojevich was never forced to defend his record.

RGA leadership congratulates Illinois gubernatorial nominee - Judy Baar Topinka
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Republican Governors Association (RGA) Chairman Mitt Romney (MA) congratulates Republican Judy Baar Topinka on last night’s gubernatorial primary win in her effort to become Illinois’s next Republican Governor. Topinka will face Democrat Incumbent Governor Rod Blagojevich in the November general election.

“Primaries are never easy, but Illinois Republicans should be proud to be represented by Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka. This nomination gives the GOP trusted leadership, necessary for cleaning up Springfield,” said RGA Chairman Mitt Romney (MA). “Illinois is an important and winnable state for our party, and we look forward to working closely with Judy in the months ahead.”

Topinka won the competitive five-way Republican primary by nearly 6 percent more than her next closest opponent, Jim Oberweis.

“Judy Baar Topinka is a successful, proven leader capable of running the great state of Illinois,” said Governor Romney. “She’ll make a difference on day one.”

The RGA was founded in 1963 and serves as the official political organization of America’s Republican Governors. There are currently 28 Republican Governors representing more than sixty percent of the nation’s population. In November, 36 gubernatorial contests will be decided.


"Brady bristled when asked whether his conservative campaign cut into Oberweis' support base, allowing Topinka to win.  Brady countered that perhaps it was Oberweis who was the spoiler."

(NOTE: No credible poll ever showed that Brady ever had a chance of winning -- if Brady did not enter the race to be the spoiler, the polls soon showed that he became to be the spoiler.  Because of Brady's strong conservative voting record on just about all of the issues, if the polls had shown that Brady was ahead, GOPUSA ILLINOIS would have called for Oberweis to withdraw and to support Brady.)

Blagojevich, Topinka come out swinging - Kevin McDermott

Hours after formally accepting his party's nomination for a second term, Gov.
Rod Blagojevich on Wednesday fired the first salvo of the general election
battle. Blagojevich, a Democrat, called for a $1 increase in Illinois' minimum
wage - and dared Republican challenger Judy Baar Topinka to oppose the idea.

Topinka quickly did just that, labeling the minimum-wage proposal an
"irresponsible" political stunt, as she struggled to unite her fractured party
for the fight ahead.

"We have to pull together as a team," Topinka told Republicans gathered at a
Chicago hotel for a post-election "unity breakfast" that wasn't quite unified.
"We have to ... work together to save this state from Rod Blagojevich. ... This
man is spending wildly (and) pandering to every group he can get his hands on."

While the Democrats on Wednesday immediately began marching toward the general
election Nov. 7, Republicans struggled to form ranks, many of them still
smarting from the bitter primary.

The tenor of the GOP mood was perhaps best summed up by second-place finisher
Jim Oberweis' backhanded assessment of Topinka's nomination: "The great news
is, anybody will do a better job than Rod Blagojevich."

Blagojevich on Tuesday easily defeated little-known former Chicago Alderman
Edwin Eisendrath for the Democratic nomination for governor. Early Wednesday,
Blagojevich announced he will push the Legislature to enact a $1 increase in
the state's minimum wage, which would bring it to $7.50 an hour, one of the
highest in the country.

The move was reminiscent of Blagojevich's first gubernatorial campaign in 2002,
when he called for (and later won) a $6.50 state minimum wage, more than a
dollar higher than the federal standard at that time.

Topinka reiterated Wednesday that she will hammer at Blagojevich's alleged
fiscal recklessness. But for that strategy to work, Topinka will first have to
pull together a party that at times seems like two parties: The
abortion-rights, social moderate-fiscal watchdog faction that Topinka
represents, and the anti-abortion, culturally conservative wing that Oberweis

"We had a family fight," state Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, the House minority
leader, told the Republicans gathered in Chicago on Wednesday, in an effort to
downplay the rift. "That's how primaries work. (Now) we have got to rally
behind our ticket. We've got to come together starting today."

Topinka took the nomination with about 38 percent of the vote in a five-way
race, while two hard-right conservatives - Oberweis and state Sen. Bill Brady
of Bloomington - drew more than 50 percent between them. In pre-election polls,
Oberweis was forecast to lose to Topinka by 15 points or more. Instead, he came
within six points.

Over orange juice and croissants at the W Hotel on Lake Shore Drive, the five
gubernatorial candidates tried to present a united front to the media, razzing
each other and joking about their campaign encounters.

Former Helene Curtis CEO and fourth-place finisher Ron Gidwitz announced he was
donating $5,000 to Topinka's campaign, and joked with her about supplying the
cosmetic coloring for her famously red hair.

Brady, who finished third, pledged "every ounce of energy I have" to help
Topinka win. Oberweis, the dairy owner, cheerfully declared, "I'm back in the
ice cream business."

But there were elements of tension.

Oberweis, when asked by reporters outside Wednesday's breakfast whether he now
will back Topinka's campaign, repeatedly skirted the question, saying, "I'm
hoping Judy will join our campaign of reforming the political system
in Illinois."

Brady bristled when asked whether his conservative campaign cut into Oberweis'
support base, allowing Topinka to win. Brady countered that perhaps it was
Oberweis who was the spoiler.

Topinka, who was clearly trying to find common ground with her former
opponents, couldn't resist jabbing at their largely self-financed campaigns
when it was suggested that Blagojevich's fundraising success is daunting.

"I've already staved off $15 million worth of millionaires' attacks," she said.


In Madison County, Oberweis got 4,734 votes to Topinka's 2,960.  In St. Clair County, Oberweis got 3,027 votes to Topinka's 1,548.  Behnken on Topinka: "Most people are not interested in a pro-choice, pro-civil-rights-for-gays governor...Many Republicans are really conflicted over whether they want four more years of Blagojevich or possibly eight-to-12 years of Topinka...A lot of moderate and conservative Republicans, in my opinion, are not going to go vote for her because she is so philosophically against what they feel is morally right."

Tuned out voters didn't turn out in primary - Ann Knef

Family dysfunction in the GOP and an unwelcome snow storm on the first day of spring contributed to an abysmally low voter turn-out in the primary election March 21.

At 13 percent, St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney said turnout was down 4 percent from the last gubernatorial primary in 2002.

"We had bad weather in the morning and throughout the day," Delaney said. "I had expected 17-20 percent turnout.

Delaney said the only irregularities that occurred included a person arrested in Alorton for campaigning too close to a polling place; and several disputes over precinct committeemen races, which were managed by his office.

Five hundred forty six people took advantage of early voting in St. Clair County, and approximately 500 did in Madison County.

Madison County Clerk Mark Von Nida said that only 15.9 percent of voters turned out, down from 25 percent in the 2002 gubernatorial primary election.

Considering that bad weather also played a factor in the primary four years ago, Von Nida said it was peculiar that more Republicans didn't come out this time.

"I would have predicted that Republicans would have turned out," he said, referring to a heavy emphasis on TV advertising by high profile GOP gubernatorial candidates.

A total of 13,895 Democratic votes were cast in the governor's race in Madison County. Republicans cast 9,647 votes for governor by comparison.

Chairman of the St. Clair County Republican Committee, Bill Zychlewicz, said it's not unusual for Democrats to turn out in greater numbers than Republicans in primary races. Typically, they have more vested, he said.

"Democratic races are completely different," Zychlewicz said. "They have contested county board races and contested precinct committeemen races. We just don't have that."

He also said there was a "low intensity" interest level in the GOP race for governor even though the main competitors were "polar opposites."

"That's partly because Judy Baar Topinka was not exactly out here campaigning," said Zychlewicz. "And Oberweis was going so negative that people lost interest. It became not a battle of issues but of personalities. People quit listening."

Joe Behnken, an outspoken political activist and former chairman of the St. Clair County Republican Committee, said that the "conservative, heartland vote was well-reflected in this election."

"Most people are not interested in a pro-choice, pro-civil-rights-for-gays governor," said Behnken.

Judy Baar Topinka, who won the state's Republican nomination with 38 percent of the vote in a crowded field of candidates, topped second place finisher Jim Oberweis, who received 31 percent of the vote. However, in both Madison and St. Clair counties, conservative Oberweis overwhelmed pro-choice Topinka.

In Madison County, Oberweis got 4,734 votes to Topinka's 2,960. In St. Clair County, Oberweis got 3,027 votes to Topinka's 1,548.

"Many Republicans are really conflicted over whether they want four more years of Blagojevich or possibly eight-to-12 years of Topinka," said Behnken. "A lot of moderate and conservative Republicans, in my opinion, are not going to go vote for her because she is so philosophically against what they feel is morally right."

In comparing Tuesday's primary with the primary election four years earlier when Topinka was running for re-election as state treasurer, Topinka's support in the Metro-East has plummeted. In 2002's primary race for treasurer, Topinka received 10,188 votes in Madison County and 6,967 votes in St. Clair County.

Behnken said the drop in support for Topinka has to do with the policy-making office she is seeking, over the "paper-pushing" one she hopes to leave behind.

"I don't think Judy Baar Topinka ever had real competition in a primary before," Behnken said. "Her flippant attitude on serious moral issues cost her conservative votes."

The only other contested race of significance in the Metro-East, the Democratic primary for the 5th Appellate Court, was notable for the surprising success of under-funded candidate Bill Berry in Madison County.

Berry got 55 percent of the vote, or a total of 6,888 votes in Madison County, compared to Bruce Stewart, who received 5,620. In St. Clair County, however, Stewart soundly defeated Berry, 9,024 votes to 5,701.

Though judicial candidates in the 3rd Circuit did not face primary challenge, Judge Don Weber and attorney Dave Hylla, viewed their returns favorably.

"I was pretty happy with the results," said Weber, who garnered 7,756 votes in Madison County. He pointed out that in the primary race of 2004, Lloyd Karmeier -who went on to become an Illinois Supreme Court justice- received 11,000 fewer votes than his Democratic rival Gordon Maag.

Hylla got 11,515 primary votes, the most, he noted, of any judicial candidate in the Metro-East.

"I was pleased," he said. "It's my first time. It's exciting to see your name on the ballot. I know that the numbers show that there are areas that I need to get out and meet people so they can get to know me."


Rutherford statement on Topinka victory: Secretary of State Candidate Proud to Join Judy on GOP Ticket

Secretary of State Candidate Dan Rutherford released the following statement on Judy Baar Topinka’s victory in tonight’s Republican Primary for Governor:

“Today, Republicans from around the state chose Judy Baar Topinka and Joe Birkett to head our ticket in November 2006. I believe that our Party is in great hands and I am confident that Judy Baar Topinka will be the next Governor.

As the Republican Nominee for Secretary of State, I am honored and privileged to be on the ticket with her and our entire team.

Judy Baar Topinka is a proven vote winner having been elected statewide on three occasions. She has extensive experience as both Treasurer and as a Legislator. Unlike the current administration, she knows fiscal responsibility and restraint. She’ll hold the line on taxes and spending and help dig us out of the financial mess Illinois currently finds itself in. She’ll also put an end to the culture of pay-to-play that has plagued Springfield for generations.

Judy was chosen from a field of extremely qualified candidates. As Republicans, we sometimes have our differences. But we need to emerge from this primary united behind our candidate and not make the same mistakes we’ve made in the past. 

I especially want to commend my Senate colleague Bill Brady. Senator Brady ran a positive spirited campaign. Bill is young and I look forward to his continued leadership within the Republican Party.”


Blagojevich v. Topinka: "This race may cause divisions within the gay community, as both Topinka and Blagojevich have frequently campaigned within the gay community. Blagojevich signed the state gay-rights law in 2005, and is seen as a stronger support of a woman’s right to choose." - Andrew Davis and Amy Wooten

In the Democratic gubernatorial primary, incumbent Gov. Rod Blagojevich withstood a challenge from Edwin Eisendrath, winning handily. In the Republican gubernatorial primary, Judy Baar Topinka fought off a surprisingly tough challenge from dairy magnate Jim Oberweis to prevail, setting up a showdown with Blagojevich in the general election. Meanwhile, Topinka’s runningmate for lieutenant governor, Joe Birkett, defeated his challengers.

This race may cause divisions within the gay community, as both Topinka and Blagojevich have frequently campaigned within the gay community. Blagojevich signed the state gay-rights law in 2005, and is seen as a stronger support of a woman’s right to choose.

Brady voters cannot be blamed for Oberweis' loss - Daniel T. Zonoza
Even before the election, a myth was being weaved by some that a vote for state Senator Bill Brady was a vote for Judy Baar Topinka in the Illinois Republican gubernatorial primary.  Now that the primary is over, we are hearing more of the same, but the tone has gotten more shrill and mean-spirited.  On election night on WGN-TV, Matt Barber (a WGN reporter referred to Barber as Oberweis' press secretary, but an 11.05.05 press release from the campaign gives Barber the title of DuPage County Coordinator) suggested Brady was a plant for the Topinka campaign.  This is the same Matt Barber whose wife sent out a letter to the editor to numerous newspapers throughout Illinois asking Senator Brady to drop out of the governor's race.  What she failed to do was reveal her husband was a paid member of Oberweis' staff--as another letter to the editor in Crain's Chicago Business exposed.  There were a number of publishers and editors who didn't like the idea they were taken advantage of.  Could this have played a part in Oberweis' loss?
Brady supporters should not feel any blame for the primary victory of Judy Baar Topinka.  In fact, with over 94% of the precincts reporting, the Brady campaign tallied nearly 20% of votes cast by Republicans despite the fact there were some other variables that held Brady's vote count down in great numbers.  Eight days before the election, the middle of the state was hit by a series of thunderstorms and tornadoes which are being called the worst in Illinois history.  The storms bulldozed their way through some of Brady's strongest areas of support.  The region was devastated to the point where power had yet to be restored to many homes by election day.  To make matters worse for Brady, on the day before--and the day of--the primary, a snow and ice storm made it extremely hazardous to travel in central Illinois.  From Peoria on the north to Effingham in the south, people left their homes only out of necessity.  The snow storm walked across the state from Illinois' border with Missouri to the Indiana state line.  Some smaller roads were impassible, encrusted with ice and topped of by blowing snow.  It is amazing Brady tallied the votes that he did.  In some counties, Brady scored between 60 and 70% of votes cast.
I do not believe in astrology, but to use a cliché, if ever the case, the stars were aligned on Tuesday for Oberweis and against Brady.  At last count, Brady received over 133,000 votes.
There are some other factors which played into the election as well which have nothing to do with weather.
As someone who recently moved from Chicagoland to central Illinois, I never fully understood the feelings many people in this part of the state have for Chicago, its suburbs and the politicians who come from this area.  They look at the City as a big, black hole, sucking up money and resources at extraordinary levels.
Downstaters see Brady as one of their own.  If given the opportunity to vote local, Brady supporters would not have voted for any one from Chicago or its suburbs and a vast majority of them did not.
It seems some are forgetting that Oberweis is now zero for three in his bid for political office.  Can others be blamed for those defeats as well?  Could it possible the candidate lost the election?  Oberweis has now run once as a pro-abortionist and twice as a pro-lifer.  Perhaps there were those who weren't buying his latest message.  And then there was Oberweis' style.  Attack ads do not go over well with true social conservatives.  Yet Oberweis' campaign was full of them.   I'm not talking about mean-spirited right wingers, I mean those who base their vote on their moral convictions.
Bill Brady not only had the right to run, Illinois citizens had the right to vote for him.  Even if Brady would have thrown his support to Oberweis, there's no guarantee Brady's supporters would have followed his suggestion.  While Americans are fighting and dying to give Iraqi's the right to vote, it would be shameful if that choice was taken away from Americans in their own country.
Finally, there is no guarantee Oberweis would have defeated Rod Blagojevich if he had won the primary.  Indeed many experts believe Brady had the greatest chance to triumph over Blagojevich in what they feel would have been a close election.  Brady was a politician, he was already in the General Assembly with a voting record, he was from mid-state, he would not alienate those from the southern reaches of Illinois and he had a clear message.  Oberweis was a rich businessman.  Many agree Brady won most of the debates he participated in.  Even some of Oberweis' supporters acknowledged the fact.
The truth is, it would have been reasonable for Oberweis to step aside.  During a conservative summit held late last year, Brady was the clear choice. 
This is a reasonable proposition--if Oberweis' supporters are claiming the reverse is true.
In conclusion, there are some Oberweis supporters who claim they are the sole keepers of the faith.  Supposedly, only they have the true answer and anyone who disagrees with them is an enemy, a false believer in the cause.  They fit the stereotype social conservatives have been trying to shed for years.  This is one of the primary reasons many supported state Senator Bill Brady.  With some Oberweis supporters, it was agree with us or we'll run you over, call you names and belittle your dedication to the concepts of life and social conservatism in general.  The dictionary describes this as hubris and, in truth, any good social conservative should reel away from such arrogance.
I'm not ashamed of my vote and neither should any of the over 133,000 people [with 94% of the precincts counted] who voted for Bill Brady.
New York Times prmotes Duckworth, again
Iraq War Veteran Wins Congressional Primary - Gretchen Ruethling 

L. Tammy Duckworth, a retired Army major who lost her legs in Iraq and has the backing of some of the Democratic Party's national leaders, declared victory on Wednesday in a close Congressional primary in suburban Chicago, setting up a carefully watched race for the seat of Representative Henry J. Hyde, a Republican who is retiring after 32 years.

Problems with Chicago's and Cook County's new voting system — installed to solve problems with the old punch-card method — also left a hard-fought county race up in the air for nearly a day after the polls closed. Finally, late Wednesday afternoon, Forrest Claypool conceded his challenge to the incumbent Cook County Board president, John H. Stroger Jr.

In the gubernatorial primary, Illinois Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka narrowly edged a conservative rival to clinch the Republican nomination and earn a chance to challenge Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich in November.

In the Sixth District Congressional primary, unofficial results showed Ms. Duckworth winning 44 percent of the vote, with her main opponent, Christine Cegelis, winning 40 percent. A third candidate, Lindy Scott, took 16 percent.

"My service to this country and my service in Iraq are a testament to my patriotism and my dedication," Ms. Duckworth said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. "I am so gratified that there is such tremendous energy in this district, that people feel there is a viable alternative for the first time in 32 years."

Ms. Duckworth, 38, lost her legs when a rocket-propelled grenade hit the helicopter she was piloting in Iraq in November 2004. She announced her candidacy in December after she was released from rehabilitation and active duty.

"Three months ago, nobody knew who I was," said Ms. Duckworth, who has received widespread support from leading Democrats like Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and John Kerry of Massachusetts, and vows to focus on education, health care and jobs. "It has been a whirlwind."

Ms. Duckworth's opponents in Tuesday's primary were critical of the amount of support and financing she received from outside the district. Ms. Duckworth will face State Senator Peter J. Roskam in November. Mr. Roskam also has national support, from Republican Party leaders, including Vice President Dick Cheney, who visited Illinois last week to raise money for him.

In the Cook County Board race, Mr. Claypool, who was running against Mr. Stroger as a reformer looking to end patronage in county government, told his supporters on Wednesday at campaign headquarters, "You brought us so close to victory against the old Democratic machine."

He added, "We were challenging virtually all the power brokers in Cook County and Chicago, but we ran a real grass-roots campaign."

Mr. Stroger, 76, remains hospitalized in serious but stable condition after suffering a stroke last week.

Mr. Claypool's concession came while election officials were manually counting ballots after problems with a new voting system left 13 percent of the votes uncounted.

In unofficial returns, Mr. Stroger was leading Mr. Claypool by more than 21,000 votes, 52 percent to 48 percent. Mr. Claypool said it was obvious that the remaining ballots, many of which were cast in predominately African-American precincts where Mr. Stroger has strong support, would not change the balance.

"We strongly believe that we have won," Bruce Washington, Mr. Stroger's campaign manager, said at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon. "We're just going through the process here of counting the remaining ballots."

The ballot problem comes two years after more than 5,000 provisional ballots cast in a primary election here were disqualified, mainly because of technical errors.


Blagojevich, Topinka Start Election With A Bang - Mike Flannery (includes video clip)


Sour Notes Sounded At GOP 'Unity' Breakfast  Topinka Calls For Cohesiveness (includes video clip)


Blagojevich, Topinka to face off for Illinois governor  GOP holds unity breakfast (includes video clips)

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