This Republican presidential primary process has huge implications for the future of our state Republican Party. If primary voters make the wrong decision and nominate Mitt Romney, the work of renewal in our own state will become much more difficult.
For most of the past few decades the Republican presidential candidates have seen Illinois accurately – as a GOP backwater not worth their time or energy. Since Republican “leaders” here in Illinois don’t bother attempting to advance a governing plan based on the GOP Platform, why should presidential candidates waste their resources doing so?
Let’s do a quick review of the political history here in the formerly great Land of Lincoln.
2002: GOP gubernatorial nominee Jim Ryan loses to Rod Blagojevich. We lose control of the state senate so both chambers are now controlled by the Dems. Both Republican General Assembly Caucuses choose new leaders – and in both cases they make the wrong choice. Those wrong choices have led to ten years in the minority.
2004: The Illinois GOP old guard joins in with the Democrats to get Republican U.S. Senate nominee Jack Ryan to step down after a silly “scandal” is cooked up by the Illinois press and the bipartisan political combine. Obama wins. Need I say more?
2006: Not only does Illinois’ own Dennis Hastert preside as House Speaker over the loss of the U.S. House, the Associated Press calls the governor’s race for Rod Blagojevich over Judy Baar Topinka at 7:05pm on election day. Republicans hold no statewide offices. Illinois Republican incompetence allows the Democrats to be rewarded for theirs.
2008: Obama wins the White House. Republicans here continue to be unable to mount a successful campaign against the Democratic Party despite the fact that the Dems run up historic levels of deficits and unconstitutional debt.
2010: Because of the Tea Party and a strong national backlash against Obama, the GOP re-takes the U.S. House while regaining a few traditionally held Republican seats here. Bill Brady loses to Pat Quinn. The three Republicans who win statewide office support only parts of the state party’s platform and in many ways are indistinguishable from Democrats.
So now it’s 2012 – and Illinois voters have yet to be presented with a Republican plan for governing the state. This, despite a massive tax increase, record debt, and a dropping bond rating. Our newly elected members of congress do nothing to help clean up the Illinois GOP, and in fact remain silent while the state party chairman endorses in primary races – something unheard of in states where people understand the role of the party.
You might say that since it’s only February there is still plenty of time for a GOP message to be communicated to Illinois voters. True. But I’d bet big money that our Republican leaders here have yet to even craft such a message. It’s easy to understand why. Our General Assembly Caucus leaders don’t have a clue about what to do, and they don’t have the courage or the know-how when it comes to disseminating information even if they did have a clue.
So – what does the GOP presidential primary have to do with our pathetic Illinois GOP?
Folks, when the roll call of our Republican leaders here is dominated by folks without a clue or a plan, those who do support GOP principles and know how to solve Illinois’ problems can be helped greatly by the right presidential nominee.
If that nominee is Mitt Romney, you can forget about the right side of this intramural GOP struggle getting help. In fact, expect just the opposite.
Should conservatives be able to solve all their problems here without outside help? Sure, but much like the Colonies needing the help of France in the Revolutionary War, there’s no shame in seeking the aide of powerful friends from outside the border.
As this article is being written, the presidential primary is still fluid and Illinois’ March 20th primary will be important. Five weeks from tomorrow Illinois Republicans will not only be stating their preference for a nominee, they’ll also unfortunately be impacting the quality of GOP leadership here. If they make the wrong choice, expect more of the same results.
Up next: Questioning the capacity of Republican primary voters.