Thursday, October 6, 2011

Schmidt won’t go; will GOP push her?

In some ways, the behavior of state Sen. Suzi Schmidt, R-Lake Villa, doesn’t surprise me in the least. Anyone who has the desire to hold elective office has to have a certain amount of ego and a sense that their presence matters.
SCHMIDT: She won't go!

So the fact that Schmidt – who became more than just another anonymous freshman state legislator when it became known she tried to use her influence to discourage Lake County sheriff’s department officials from seriously investigating her husband’s claims that she was abusing him – is now saying she has no intentions of resigning her post is to be expected.

IN FACT, I suspect that Schmidt probably thinks she’s making a tough, principled, ethical stand by refusing to give in to people who she wants to think are trying to turn her personal life into an issue against her.

Which means she has the ability to live her life in a fantasy world of her own making – just like many other government officials.

So I’m not writing this commentary out of any sense that Schmidt needs to be criticized. I suspect if she ever reads this, she’ll be quick to trash me.

My concern in this whole affair is Schmidt’s Republican colleagues – who are now in a position of having to defend someone who (deep down) they wish would wither away into political nothingness.

THE DISCLOSURES ABOUT Schmidt came up last month. Lake County sheriff’s police, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, made public the content of the calls Schmidt made to police dispatchers on three occasions in recent months when police had to respond to the Schmidt residence.

The one call that amused people was one from her husband who said his wife had locked him out of their house on Christmas Day, which means it was winter and he didn’t have a jacket on. He probably was cold.

The call that offended people was Schmidt herself calling the dispatchers and telling them they shouldn’t bother to respond to any calls at her house made by her husband. She also made mention of the fact that, for the 10 years leading up to this year, Schmidt was the chairman of the Lake County Board.

The far north suburbs’ answer to Toni Preckwinkle.

EXCEPT THAT I can’t envision Preckwinkle ever telling Cook County sheriff’s police they should ignore 9-1-1 emergency calls. Or trying to flash her title as a way of intimidating police into ignoring complaints.

Now as it turns out, police haven’t charged anybody with anything in connection with any of these calls to the Schmidt home. These domestic disputes didn’t rise to the level of crimes.

But when the calls came out and the initial public reaction wasn’t offense that the information became public, Schmidt began getting pressure to resign her post.

After all, she had only been a legislator since January. Had Schmidt just left, it is likely that she would have been forgotten so quickly on the Statehouse Scene that there would have been no lingering ill-will toward her.

MAYBE SHE COULD have gone back to the county scene, where (if she really was as important a person as she believes she was) she could have won some sort of government post – unless she were to decide that a future life would be better spent outside of electoral politics.

Privately, GOP leadership said they were prepared to give Schmidt the weekend to decide for herself what to do (which really meant that she should realize she should just walk away).

But it just ain’t gonna happen that way.

For Schmidt on Wednesday made it known that not only is she not resigning, she also plans to seek re-election. She’s gambling on the fact that she represents an area where the Republican Party is solid, and that there likely isn’t any other GOPer with the desire to be an anonymous state senator.

LAST WEEK, STATE Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, called the revelations about Schmidt, “extremely troubling,” and said that public officials, “are held to a higher standard.”

Now, Radogno is defending Schmidt, saying she, “has acknowledged that her actions were wrong and has asked for the forgiveness of her constituents.”

This could be a case where Republican leadership is publicly saying nice things to avoid a brawl, while privately will do everything they can to undermine her re-election chances.

Then again, maybe it isn’t.

WHICH MEANS WE’LL really have to wait until late this year to see if anybody decides to challenge Schmidt for the Republican nomination for her far north suburban state Senate seat.

That’s when we’ll learn whether or not Radogno and Schmidt’s Republican defenders these days have any political sincerity, or if they’re just engaging in the typical trash-talk of a campaign season – defending their own, regardless of how bad they behave.

Which, to me, is more offensive than anything Schmidt is alleged to have done.


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