2009 Cook County GOP Convention

-By Warner Todd Huston

I just got back from attending the Saturday session of the Cook County Republican Party Convention (and before you ask, yes, there IS a Cook County Republican Party). It appeared that about 1,000 participants had come and gone during the day.

I was not able to make the Friday session, but today’s session featured five of the GOP candidates for governor making their pitch to the Cook delegates and convention goers. Noticeably absent was Andy McKenna whose recent announcement to join the race for gov. has caused quite a bit of consternation.

The morning got off to a rousing start with GOP Chairman Lee Roupas addressing the gathered crowd. Roupas really ginned up the attendees with a rousing address promising that the Cook County GOP is a new party, a vital party, one that can take on the corruption plagued Democrats and make a dent in the upcoming 2010 elections.

Roupas quickly turned the dais over to the always energetic Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica who gave a rousing speech whipping up the faithful to defeat the “Crook County” Democratic machine that has been up to its rear-end in criminality and corruption for so darn long.

After Peraica we saw the first major address by Roger Keats, the Party candidate for GOP Cook County Board President. Keats did a fine job at the dais, to be sure. He is a fine candidate.

Myself and Commissioner Tony Peraica

After this I had to step out to take a conference call on some other blogging duties. So I have to confess I have no idea what happened during that time. But once I returned it was time for the five candidates for governor to make their individual pitch.

First off, I did not live blog every speech that the five gave. If you want a good blow-by-blow, Fran Eaton of IllinoisReview.com live blogged the event and has some top notch coverage of the whole shebang. In fact, you should always keep an eye on IllinoisReview.com for Illinois GOP news. They do a great job over there.

As to the speeches given by the five candidates above (excluding the missing McKenna) I’ll just give my impression of the efforts. The speakers went on one after the other in alphabetical order.

I have to say that Adam Andrzejewski got the most applause. I’ve noticed that Mr. Andrzejewski does very, very well on the dais as he always gets a lot of applause. He is energetic, excited even, and hits all the right notes on the issues that form his stump speech.

Bill Brady was next and he did a fine job on the issues and with his presentation. I missed a few minutes of his speech because of a phone call, though. Still, Brady is always a fine speaker and has some good points in his stump speech. Brady is a long time GOP operative and I would suspect he feels the party owes him his shot as the lone candidate for governor. But he has a packed field to defeat first.

Next was Senator Kirk Dillard. Keeping with the old adage that complaints get more press than satisfaction, I have a few more words to say about Dillard than the other four. Dillard’s speech was one extended resume, as it always seems to be. But here I must say one thing I am getting tired of from Mr. Dillard and that is his whole “Reagan’s 11th Commandment” bit. The 11th commandment is often misstated as one that says no Republican should attack another Republican in any way.

It is plain that Mr. Dillard has an issue or two with Mr. Proft (the two traded a few jibes during the afternoon as they have on line and in other appearances) and he seems to imagine that he’s using that 11th commandment line to say that Proft shouldn’t be slamming the other candidates (more on Proft, next). But here is the thing, Reagan never meant the so-called 11th commandment to mean that no Republican could oppose any other GOP candidate. As Proft so ably pointed out, Ronald Reagan ran against the national party candidate when he almost beat Gerald Ford for the 1976 GOP nomination for president! What Reagan meant was that after the slate is chosen then support your party and he also meant that low personal attacks are not desirable. And it simply cannot be said that Proft has ever hit Dillard with a low personal attack. Proft has stuck to the issues.

Now, this whole 11th commandment thing wouldn’t be so bad if Dillard didn’t follow up his citing of that ideal with a jab at Proft every time! It is one of the most insincere memes I’ve seen in this race thus far. Dillard says it’s mean to say other Republicans are rotten then says how rotten Proft is. I just have to say that the whole thing is getting tiresome. Dillard would do well to drop the snipe and just get on with his pitch.

While Dillard won the straw poll, I have to say that his stump speech does not much address the issues facing Illinois. As I said above, it is usually an extended resume of his family, his birth in Chicago, his education, his wife, his, his, his. To me, Dillard’s stump speech is unsatisfactory as it does not address where Illinois is and what he’ll do to reverse the mess we are facing.

And the last complaint: at one point Dillard said that Abraham Lincoln was “the founder of our party” as he reminded us all that his great, great, great grandfather helped get Lincoln nominated as the GOP candidate for president in 1860. But, the thing is, Lincoln was not the founder of our party. Heck, he wasn’t even the first presidential candidate for the Republican Party — that was “The Pathfinder,” John C. Fremont. Lincoln wasn’t even really the founder of the Illinois GOP though he did have a lot to do with the early party. Lincoln stayed a member of the Whig Party for a time after the Illinois GOP formed (after all he’d won election to the House once as a Whig). Anyway, someone needs to pass a few history books to Dillard before he utters this line again.

Next up was Dan Proft and he started off with a wonderfully dry sarcasm. After Dillard’s 15-minute verbal resume, Proft mentioned that he was born, went to school, went to college and went to work, too, “how about that?” I’ve heard Proft’s stump speeches a few times now and I have to say that he impresses me with how seriously he takes the issues. He generally sticks to them, too. His candor is refreshing to me. There is no messing around and certainly no soft peddling of what he believes and feels would serve as a solution to what ails the state.

Finally we had the address by Bob Schillerstrom. The biggest selling point for Schillerstrom is the fact that he is the DuPage County Board Chairman. DuPage is one of the largest counties in the state, so he has an actual record of running a large government already — experience the other four do not have. This experience should not be lightly dismissed. Schillerstrom seems ernest but my big problem with him is that he is against concealed carry. This is a deal breaker for me personally.

All five candidates and friend

Cook GOP Chairman Lee Roupas made a few crowd pleasing appearances after the five gubernatorial candidates and the last speech was offered by none other than long-time GOP operative Judy Baar Topinka who came to ask the delegates for their support for her race for State Comptroller.

At the end of today’s session, the party announced its straw poll results with Senator Kirk Dillard coming out on top with 216 votes.

Straw Poll Results

  1. Kirk Dillard — 216
  2. Bill Brady — 198
  3. Adam Andrzejewski — 150
  4. Dan Proft — 142
  5. Bob Schillerstrom — 108
  6. Andy McKenna — 21

And there you have it. The Cook County slate includes the following candidates: for sheriff is Frederick Collins, a Chicago police officer; for county clerk is Angel Garcia of Chicago, a financial services investigator; for county assessor is current Evanston Township assessor Sharon Strobek-Eckersall; and for treasurer is Carol Morse of Western Springs.

Other notables at the event were WLS radio host Bruce Dumont and Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady (pictured right).

I also had a nice conversation with another candidate for Cook County Board President, John Garrido.

Lastly, candidate for Senate Eric Wallace was there and I finally got to meet both David Ratowitz, who is running for Rahm Emanuel’s old seat in the House of Representatives, and Phil Collins, who is running for State Rep of the 17th District. Bill Kelly, another candidate for state comptroller also made an appearance. I am sure other candidates were about, but these were the ones I got a chance to have a few words with, at any rate.

(Cross posted at RedCounty.com)
Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as NewsBusters.org, RightWingNews.com, CanadaFreePress.com, StoptheACLU.com, TheRealityCheck.org, RedState.com, Human Events Magazine, AmericanDailyReview.com, and the New Media Journal, among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events and is currently the co-host of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Conservatism” heard on BlogTalkRadio. Warner is also the editor of the Cook County Page for RedCounty.com.

He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on amazon.com. He is also the owner and operator of PubliusForum.com. Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston

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2 thoughts on “
2009 Cook County GOP Convention”

  1. For those of us who are located in Cook County, please continue to report on the Republicans running for various offices here. It will help us wade through the RINOs to try to support whatever true conservatives do run. Thanks.

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