Monday, March 17, 2014

Will Oberweis gaffes impact GOP? Will Rauner hurt self more than gov?

I'm sure the official spin we're going to get in coming days (in about 36 hours, once the primary election cycle is complete) is that the political momentum leans toward the Republicans.
Who will rule here? A long ways to go!

After all, it is likely that Bruce Rauner will be the GOP nominee for governor (the only real question is whether Kirk Dillard will finish a close second place, or somewhat distant). He will have all the public attention on him come Wednesday morning.

WHILE NO ONE will have been paying attention to Gov. Pat Quinn, because he didn't have to put any effort into winning his primary bid for re-nomination.

We're going to hear tales about how Rauner (or Dillard, if he really does pull off the political comeback he's been fantasizing about for the past week) is the "It" girl of Illinois politics -- while Quinn is just deadly dull. Nobody will care. How can he top the excitement being generated by the GOP nominee?

If it reads like I'm writing that with a semi-sarcastic tone, I'd say "no." I'm being fully sarcastic.

Because I wonder if we're about to approach the high point of the Republican Party's dreams of returning to relevance in Illinois. I expect it will occur someday. I'm just not sure it's going to be this year.

WHICH IS A shame. Having Quinn and Richard Durbin at the top of the Democratic ticket creates the image of the "same ol' stuff." If Republican operatives had any sense, they'd try to claim to be the political party of "change."

Instead, they seem to be determined to give us the same old stuff. Which is why I'm inclined this election cycle will wind up giving us maintenance of the political status quo.

And that, in large part, is because of the man who really will be at the top of the Republican ticket. It won't be Rauner/Dillard/whoever. It will be James Oberweis, the state senator from Sugar Grove who wants to take on Durbin.

He's also the business executive who has made so many political gaffes in his multiple bids for electoral offices (he's tried running for governor, member of Congress and U.S. senator -- before finally winning an Illinois Senate seat).

I REALLY SEE a situation where he winds up doing something that ticks off the electorate to the point where Durbin will be able to count on a solid victory -- and return to a fourth six-year term in the U.S. Senate.

Already in this campaign cycle, he's getting hit about his residence status. Which is in Illinois, although his wife appears to be the type of person who would just as soon be rid of Illinois.

She lives in Florida, and the Oberweises are wealthy enough that they can actually afford to live in some style with two separate households. Not something the bulk of us could ever dream of doing.

It seems that when we all got hit with the most recent severe winter snowstorm, Oberweis wasn't here with us in Illinois. He was in Florida. He says he wanted to be with her for her birthday, and also told reporter-types how he lost his first wife (to divorce) because he spent too much time devoted to his "work."

OBERWEIS AS A devoted husband? Or just somebody who's sticking with us in the Midwestern U.S. because he sees us as a potential electoral opportunity?

I don't consider this gaffe as severe as the one from campaigns past where he flew around Soldier Field in a helicopter, reminding us that "illegal aliens" slipping into the United States could fill up the Chicago Bears' home stadium with a new crowd each and every day.

But these things do pile on to the degree that Republicans don't really seem to think much of their chances of beating Durbin. They're focusing attention on dumping Quinn.

Yet to what degree does the "top of the ticket" harm the rest of the Republicans?

PARTICULARLY IF PEOPLE start viewing the GOP Top as one headed by two candidates who are rich guys who don't live like the rest of us. For Rauner, homes in Winnetka and a downtown Chicago high-rise, along with properties in other parts of the country?

How long until we get gags about the Illinois Republican big-wigs convening at Oberweis' Florida home? Or the ranch in Montana that Rauner owns? Not exactly the image for a political party that likes to brag of its direct ties to Abraham Lincoln and that house in downtown Springfield, Ill.

Plus, it's just a matter of time before one of the men -- if not both -- winds up saying or doing something that gets converted into the next big scandal.

The Rauner opposition during the primary election cycle was so underfunded, they couldn't come up with anything to make stick on him. Which gubernatorial hopeful William Brady seemed to allude to during last week's final City Club of Chicago debate when told Rauner that he'd probably be an unknown lingering in last place if NOT for all that personal money he spent on television advertising to tout himself in the most favorable way.

QUINN WON'T HAVE that same campaign finance problem. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the first negative attack ad (either from the Quinn camp or from Quinn sympathizers) were to come on Wednesday.

Start chipping away at the veneer he has erected, and see if it can start to stick. And if the GOP nature for gaffes continues, perhaps it really all will come tumbling down.

Now I'm not 100 percent sure what to think of the Quinn campaign. The man is more than capable of doing himself in politically. I'm just not convinced that people should get all arrogant about that "26 percent" approval rating we hear about over and over and pronounce him politically "dead."

Let's be honest. There will be at least a few body blows the Republican challengers will have to to cope with that will be completely self-inflicted!


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