Thursday, October 21, 2010

EXTRA: Is Brady rhetoric cracked? Or do we really all want to be Hoosiers?

Bopping about the Internet on Thursday, I stumbled across several people who took great offense that Republican gubernatorial hopeful William Brady would compare us to Indiana – and find us lacking.

Wishing to live in Bloomington, Ind.?
When watching the debate late Wednesday, I heard the same line, and in fact jotted it down into a notebook because it caught my attention. “If you want an Illinois that looks more like an Indiana or a Tennessee,… we need new leadership in Springfield.”

MY UNDERSTANDING IS that it is one of the stock lines that Brady uses in his standard campaign speech – particularly when campaigning in the “other” third of Illinois – the parts that lay outside the Chicago metropolitan area.

Could it be that Brady “forgot” where he was and used a downstate line for a Chicago television audience? This was during the debate closed to the public but broadcast on WLS-TV. Or, more likely, was he throwing a bone to be used in the news coverage of the event that would appear in the downstate newspapers, which are read by the people for whom this year’s election cycle is taking on a particularly harsh “anti-Chicago” vibe?

It literally is a cycle where Illinois legislative candidates who received the Chicago Tribune endorsement (that newspaper is the only one that attempts to endorse the whole General Assembly, rather than just their local districts, and it usually thinks that Chicago Democrats should have to answer to downstate Republican control) are now having to seriously justify that they’re not “in the bag” of “Chicago political hacks.”

There is even a new poll showing Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, with only an 18 percent favorable rating (almost as bad as that 13 percent that now-impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich once got from a Chicago Tribune poll). Much of that sentiment is coming from people who are using Madigan as a personification for Chicago the way that a few months ago they were using Blagojevich in the same manner.

BUT BACK TO Brady, whose life-long Bloomington residence makes him the preference of those people who want a rural Illinois perspective to dominate state government. Which means this “Indiana” sentiment is one I have heard all too often – as though we’d be better off if we were at the same standard as our Midwestern neighbor states.

A lot of it usually comes down to the lesser overall sales tax rates. The best example I can give is of two neighboring towns – Lansing, Ill. (in Cook County) and Munster, Ind. The sales taxes on the Illinois side of State Line Road add up to 9.25 percent, compared to 7 percent for Indiana.

Others cite the distance from urban life, while for some, the preference for surrounding states is due to the perception that the percentages of non-Anglo people are significantly smaller.

 Be honest. For some people, that is the issue.

NO AMOUNT OF discussion about Illinois having a per capita income higher than surrounding states or a lower individual state income tax rate will sway those types of people, whom Brady’s remark was meant to try to sway.

Personally, I think one gets what they pay for. You pay less in Indiana, and get less. It’s your choice, but don’t subject the rest of us to it.

I also couldn’t help but notice Brady’s “Missourah” pronounciation of Missouri at another point during the Wednesday night debate. Subtle reminders to those “rest of Illinois” people that he’s not a Chicagoan – which he hopes will result in a flood of votes that overwhelm the city.

The scary thing, from a city perspective, is that it could work – since there is the superficial evidence indicating that people in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs aren’t as worked up over this election cycle as the rest of the state.

THE REAL QUESTION is whether or not the Internet cranks I have been reading represent any significant sentiment. Could enough urban people have heard what Brady said, and now be ticked off enough to think it important for them to get to the polling place to vote against him?

What I do know is that if there is a significant Chicago and Cook County voter turnout at the Early Voting Centers and at polling places on Nov. 2, the dreams of significant Republican political gains will be severely hampered.

I am skeptical that many people chose the Quinn/Brady show over David Letterman, the Tonight Show, or “The Nanny” re-runs airing on Nick at Night to be aware of the line, or give it much thought. Which could make all this speculation much adieu about nothing.

Oh well, 13 more days until Election Day, then all the nonsense-talk comes to an end, at least until Nov. 22 when the petition-filing process begins for the 2011 Chicago mayoral election.


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