Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Will Fighting Irish kicker of some three decades ago have a chance at Congress?

It shouldn’t be perceived as a surprise that Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., is going to face some serious competition if she wants to keep her Congressional post beyond 2020.
The political establishment is going to be determined to think that a young, black woman managed to win a DuPage County-based House seat only as a total fluke – and that it will be time for the natural order of things to be restored by dumping her from office.

IT’S NOT EVEN odd that one of the potential Republican replacements for Underwood has plans to significantly play up the fact that he has athletic accomplishments.

For people who think that politics is dull or boring or confusing or irrelevant to their lives, it may well be easier to comprehend old football footage than any attempt to get at the issues confronting our society.

So the political aspirations of Ted Gradel shouldn’t be dismissed out-of-hand.

Gradel played big-time college football (Notre Dame, class of 1987), before going into business and establishing a life for himself out around the Land of DuPage. Now, the Naperville resident thinks it’s time for him to serve in Congress.

WHICH MAKES HIM one of three people saying they will run for the Republication nomination to challenge Underwood in next year’s election cycle – Jim Oberweis and Allen Skillicorn are the other two, as of now.

But Gradel, who admits he has no political experience and thinks we ought to view that as a “positive in my book,” has, according to the Capitol Fax newsletter, hired a political consultant and has already put together his first campaign at touting himself.
UNDERWOOD: Can she win re-election?

That ad features one-time Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz touting just how wonderful a football place kicker Gradel was – and is loaded with footage of Gradel playing for the Fighting Irish.

In short, a perfect spot to appeal to people who otherwise wouldn’t want to bother thinking about politics.

THERE’S JUST ONE thing that could wind up hurting Gradel – the fact that by so strongly reminding people he played football for Notre Dame, he’s going to stir up the resentment and hostility of all those sports fans who like to denigrate Notre Dame every single chance they get.
HARRIS: Former gridder now in politics

The ones who think that anything that was ever special about Notre Dame football was long ago in the past, and they seem to get upset any time anyone includes the Fighting Irish amongst the ranks of the best college football programs in the country.

Will Underwood’s re-election bid wind up gaining the support of every single person who feels compelled to trash-talk Notre Dame every chance they get?

For that matter, Gradel includes footage of a field goal he kicked against Alabama all those decades ago. Will all the fans of the Crimson Tide (a school that has made increasing efforts to recruit for students throughout the Midwest – including Illinois) become instantly appalled with the Gradel campaign so as to disregard it from its opening moments?

IT MAY SOUND irrational, bordering in crazy and downright nuts!
FLANAGAN: Is he Underwood equivalent?

But then again, it wouldn’t be the stupidest thing that ever happened on the political scene – particularly if someone is being asked to base the casting of a ballot on the fact that someone once played a sport at a highly-competitive level.

So it will be interesting to see if Gradel can manage to beat out a pair of business executives who, at the very least, have gained a little bit of political experience serving in the Illinois General Assembly.

Or more importantly, was Underwood’s 2018 electoral victory over incumbent Congressman Randy Hultgren just a political fluke – something along the lines of back in 1994 when Michael P. Flanagan managed to win a Congressional post for two years as a Republican from Chicago!


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