Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Sweet column: Illinois GOP looking for big McCain, Giuliani, Romney primary in state. Illinois straw poll? UPDATED WITH ILLINOIS STRAW POLL RESULTS.

| 18 Comments

WASHINGTON -- The unintended byproduct of Illinois moving up its primary to boost White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is putting the state in major play for the GOP presidential candidates.

AUG. 17
ILLINOIS STRAW POLL RESULTS CLICK TO

blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2007/05/sweet_column_illinois_gop_look.html

"It really is wide open on the Republican side," said Illinois Republican Party chairman Andy McKenna.

"It's ironic," he said. "A move to help Obama helps the Republican Party.''

When Gov. Blagojevich signs the legislation setting Feb. 5 as the primary date, switching from March, Illinois joins more than 20 other states holding elections that day, creating a new national primary. While Obama has a near lock on Illinois, the three top Republican contenders -- former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) -- see Illinois as fertile territory and are establishing statewide campaigns.

In order to draw attention to Illinois, McKenna said the party is considering organizing a straw poll on Aug. 16, five days after the influential Aug. 11 Iowa Republican party straw poll.

Each of the three frontrunners on the GOP side have tapped leading Illinois Republicans as chairmen -- all with statewide political networks.

State Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Westchester) ran McCain's Illinois operation in 2000 and is signed on again, giving McCain a running start.

McCain begins with backing from GOP congressional members Ray LaHood, Mark Steven Kirk, John Shimkus and former Sen. Peter Fitzgerald. During the 2000 McCain bid, Durkin was the only elected official in the state with McCain. Now McCain is endorsed by 23 state House and Senate members and state Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson (R-Greenville) is the Illinois co-chairman.

"We are building on top of what we did a few years back," Durkin said.

Romney tapped state Sen. Dan Rutherford (R-Pontiac) to chair his Illinois campaign. "It's about [Romney] building his persona out there and fielding an organization," Rutherford said. Rutherford -- as has Durkin -- has run statewide and still has expansive contacts.

Romney is running with the support of one of the state's most influential Republicans -- former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert.

Giuliani landed House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego). "Giuliani has a certain amount of star power like Obama," Cross said. Cross has already lined up some 20 county GOP chairmen -- including from Lake, Kendall, McHenry and Will counties.

The former mayor has business executive and former GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron Gidwitz as his state finance chairman.

While there are more candidates -- including former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who has many friends among Illinois Republicans -- none of the others is mounting a real drive to win any of the 70 Illinois delegates.

The primary could provide a shot in the arm for the Illinois GOP that is much needed -- what with the Democrats in every statewide office and in control of the House and Senate.

McKenna sees the primary as a "basis for re-engaging volunteers who may have been dispirited the past couple of years.''

The GOP rivals, said McKenna, will be "viewing Illinois not just as a place to raise money but a place where they want to win."


Giuliani returns to Chicago on June 4 for a fund-raiser. For the first quarter, Romney raised $431,106 from Illinois donors; McCain took in $419,205 and Giuliani collected $297,375.

The primary could provide a much-needed shot-in-the-arm for the Illinois GOP—what with the Democrats in every statewide office and in control of the House and Senate.

McKenna sees the primary as a “basis for re-engaging volunteers who may have been dispirited the past couple of years.’’

The GOP rivals, said McKenna, will be "viewing Illinois not just as a place to raise money but a place where they want to win.''

Giuliani returns to Chicago on June 4 for a fund-raiser. For the first quarter, Romney raised $431,106 from Illinois donors; McCain took in $419,205 and Giuliani collected $297,375.

18 Comments

i am an independantof sorts.i vote for the man not any party. but i want to say i will not vote forany republican [or democrat] who doesnt have the guts to stand up and tell bush[and presedent cheny] the cant agree with them.then vote there own honest opinion on immegration,irac and other major issues.my opinion on irac is if we leave tomorrow or ten yrs from now the same people will control irac[sadar?]probably.on immegration something has to be done now.if its found to be not working make changes to improve until something is found to work.congres was voted in to express will of majority.majority says get it done now.thank you jack myers

i am an independantof sorts.i vote for the man not any party. but i want to say i will not vote forany republican [or democrat] who doesnt have the guts to stand up and tell bush[and presedent cheny] the cant agree with them.then vote there own honest opinion on immegration,irac and other major issues.my opinion on irac is if we leave tomorrow or ten yrs from now the same people will control irac[sadar?]probably.on immegration something has to be done now.if its found to be not working make changes to improve until something is found to work.congres was voted in to express will of majority.majority says get it done now.thank you jack myers

Jack - Yoo are in dispirate need of inglish lessuns. It scarez me that peepul like you are allowed to vote at all.

My state of Illinois is a Democratic state. Being a Republican and conservative, not a "Neo-Conservative," is almost like having no voice at all. Every election I go to my polling place, vote, and go home to wait for the results. Most of the time the votes go across the board for Democrats. In 2006, the only Republican elected in my county was Rep Shimkus. Chicago is the center of political power and dictates our political agenda. Here we pass laws to benefit illegal aliens, we pass laws to regulate human behavior by taking away legal rights because it offends some, and here, as in Washington, we have a record of some who have used their political positions for personal gain. I'm sure it is the same in every state because of the influence of the wealthy and powerful, movers and shakers who dominate in our government. Personally, I have come to believe that my vote here is of no consequence in the whole political picture. I have always been a loyal patriotic American and I love my country. I have lived through several presidents and wars. I have never been scared of losing my right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness until now. I see America slipping away in favor of a world agenda.

It is impossible to talk about the Neo-Conservatives and their organizations with their world domination agenda because the government has debunked such theories as myths and lies. The media won't talk about it because they are scared to or else they are part of it. Suffice it to say we are on a course of policing the world, using force where necessary, setting the policies we demand other countries adhere to, controlling financial systems, controlling the markets with all their free trade agreements, controlling the educational system, and now they are in the process of tagging us all with a national ID micro chip card, part of their Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, by first forcing the use of a special passport with the ID card to come next. It's all part of using fear tactics under the guise of keeping us safe and secure from terrorists. I find it strange that they want to "tag and track" us when we are not the enemy. Where are the measures to find and track the people who have no right to be here?

As if we weren't involved enough in the world, we now have Africom, to go into Africa to advise and help them with their problems, all in a humanitarian effort, so they say. This will cost us billions of more dollars. We have spent billions to invade and destroy Iraq's infrastructure and now we are spending billions more to rebuild it. We have the threat of using military force against Iran. How are we going to spread ourselves all over the world and how are we going to finance it? We have all kinds of problems here in this country with our infrastructure that receives no attention until we have a catastrophe. Where is the concern from our government for keeping, repairing, and rebuilding our own country to keep America strong. Why hasn't the Gulf Coast area been restored and their people returned to live and prosper? How is it right to ignore them in favor of other countries across the world? Why has our own transportation system been neglected and only brought to mind when we have another catrastophe? Why do we frisk little old ladies at airports and throw away baby sippy cups to find terrorists and ignore the people who fit the profile because we have become so politically correct and lawsuit driven that we apologize and appease the very people who want to harm us, while treating our own citizens as if they are terrorists?

I am voting for Ron Paul because he is the only one whose principles I can agree with. He believes in Americans having the right to enjoy their liberty without government interference and keeping a strong defense here for the purpose of protecting our country from attack. He is the only one not afraid to tell the truth and stand up for our Constitution. That is why so many have responded to his message. All the others just repeat the same old slogans and issues they always use. I personally feel half of them are part of the Neo-Conservatives who are responsible for all the chaos and unhappiness in the world.

The guy is probably writing on a laptop...give him a break. Anyway, I'm Republican and won't vote for anyone that can't stand on principle. I'm leaning towards Sam Brownback. Check out his record at Brownback.com. I'm not thrilled about Rudy Giuliani. It looks like Mitt Romney may become the frontrunner of the Republicans. Bush knows that our economy is rich in the agricultural arena and other food services sector. Our Hispanic population is a population that business has come to depend on since there are fewer children being born of native Americans (white, black, homosexual or heterosexual). We've become a nation dependent on more manual labor from the South to help us with our agricultural economy or our food literally rots on the trees or in the fields.

I was born and raised as a third generation Illinois resident from the City of Chicago. I was basically raised in a heavy democratic ward on the Southwest side, but as an Illinois resident it was quite clear that in the State of Illinois it was a clash of two cultures and life styles one was the Culture of Democratic Chicago the center of all commerce and capital gains in the state of Illinois with it's cultural, racial and ethnic diversity and the second was rural and downstate Illinois which was not so culturaly diverse, ever so much conservative very god fearing and basically was and is made up of people whom have farmed the land of their forefathers whom came to Illinois when the old Northwest Territory was opened to settlement, so it was along these lines that Illinois was split along the cultural and political lines. These divisons stem from the election for the U.S. Senate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. Lincoln whom came from the central Illinois town of New Salem and Douglas whom resided in the "Sleepy" little town on the shores of Lake Michigan Chicago. Lincoln was a down state Republican Douglas an up state Democrat. The histroic friction has been an on going issue in Illinois which has basically blocked Illinois from becoming the even greater State which it could have been, it is all due to this infighting within the halls of the Statehouse in Springfield, and this infighting has basically stigmatised alot of Illinois citizens and has driven them from the polls this issue and the dirty tricks implemented by both parties to achieve the most votes and the eventual edge regardless of ethics or morals. Now I reside in Wisconsin and the state of Wisconsin is going through the same problem as Illinois did twenty five years ago, good political policies and programs being stalled due to political infighting and differneces in social views, except in Wisconsin it is the complete geographically opposite the Conservatives rule in the North and a majority of Librals in the southern end of the state edging ever so closer to Illinois.
Yet in Wisconsin we as former residents of Illinois whom reside in Wisconsin, yet our hearts are still in Illinois, are looking at what transpired in the Statehouse in Springfield twentyfive years ago, and we are saddened by these events. Wisconsin can be a good neighbor to Illinois and can learn alot from Illinois which is a much older state that Wisconsin. I believe that Wisconsin could become a world shaker yet it has to face the facts that lay before it's future. First off Wisconsin is no longer the Dairy capital of the United States it has sunk to the number three spot with California as number one and yes believe it or not Arizona as number two; so Wisconsin has to find another business sector to become good at and since Milwaukee has a rather extensive passenger train corridor and is blessed with obtaining the business that crosses the Stateline daily, yet the State Capitol the city of Madison has to except the fact that it is a regional city which influences the social, economic and ethics of her surounding neighboring towns, cities and even counties; and yet she is un-willing to except that responsibility. I am sure if the city of Madison would except this as a fact, and allow that a intercity passenger corridor be re-established between both Milwaukee and a direct line to and from Chicago proper, I am sure that Madison, Wisconsin could be the roll model for all cities in the State of Wisconsin can follow, and through her infulence and help, lead Wisconsin from the economic downturn she is currently facing to a positive future; but another key element to this success is to elect effective and progressive elected officials whom have Wisconsin's future in mind and whom sincerly feel that Wisconsin can be come a great State not the great mistake it has turned into under the Tommy Thompson administration. I believe if Americans choose a former Govenor of any State as a Presidential hopeful, first ask questions through the internet or speak to a group of individuals from the State enwhich the canidate was the Govenor and obtain feedback from their view point not from straw polls or from the Nielson ratings, but from the real people, then weigh the opinions of those whom reside in these States, and let yourself be the judge. Remember it is you and only you whom pulls the lever, punches the card pushes the buttons, writes the candidates name on the ballot at the polling place, not Fox news, not the Nielson ratings, not the major news services or media, but you John and Joan Q. Public the all American Men and Women. I am hopeful that we as American's have seen the importance of voting and exercising your right. I hope America as a whole has opened it's eyes both Republican and Democrat, as to the dangers of ignoring your right to vote and allowing the likes of George W. Bush and Karl Rove into office and commiting acts of treason in the name of fighting terrorism. I also hope that both parties can settle their differences and bring the United States back into the forefront of greatness, not as a military power house, the World is well aware of our might, but as the caryatid to reasoning, fairness and freedom; not as the bully and tyrant outlaw nation we have turned into were the World is afraid of us and tries avoid our company as a family member to the World.
I can understand that the two parties will never see eye to eye and represent two different sectors of our society, but these issues have to be put on the back burner when the business of recovering our reputation, bebuilding our economy and bringing our noble military personel home. We cannot allow our nation to be driven by fear and neo-conservative religous ferver anymore we have to return to reason and joining the World family and conducting ourselves within this family in a proper manner, and re-learn that respecting our Mother and Father Earth is good for all, and bring our parents back to health because our parents are currently very ill and they need our attention, which the Bush administration has ignored in the name of greed and stupidity.
Brian Morgan

Is it just me, or is Ron Paul the only candidate who has any substance? I've been to many political functions both Democrat and Republican...and most candidates speak in generalities and talking points.
After listening to US Representative Paul speak...it's like a classroom workshop. Perhaps he's not getting much press or respect from the news stations because the Advertisers are also investing big bucks in particular candidates. Thus whoever the newstation is, has to succumb to the Corporate Advertisers who are dumping millions of dollars into network advertising as well as certain political campaigns.
That's my 2cents.

How can anyone fail to appreciate that we have not had a single
American killed by terrorist on American soil, since 911.
President Bush has brought many of the terrorist to justice, even many of those that attacked our citizens and service personnel, at least 8 times durig the 8 miserable years Hillary and Bill lived out the days of their lives on the White House stage.Anyone but Hillary and Bill in 08

How can anyone fail to appreciate that we have not had a single
American killed by terrorist on American soil, since 911.
President Bush has brought many of the terrorist to justice, even many of those that attacked our citizens and service personnel, at least 8 times durig the 8 miserable years Hillary and Bill lived out the days of their lives on the White House stage.Anyone but Hillary and Bill in 08

The Illinois straw poll can act as a confirmation of the Iowa straw poll. I hope Ron Paul does well and gets his 9%. This would indicate a steady growth in his campaign. He appeals to Christian conservatives, freedom conservatives, and even rocket-scientist conservatives.

Until somebody on the GOP side condemns the illegal and un-necessary invasion of Iraq, and comes up with a plan to fix the mess Bush/Cheney got us into, they are not worthy of our vote. Right now I only hear solutions coming from the Democrats.

yeah its just you Brian Morgan. Besides Ron Paul, I have not heard too many claim that they would disband the Federal Reserve. And in times like today,with the economy on the brink and the ramifications of globalization,any person that suggests that scares me half to death.

I really don't care who wins in 08 as long as that person listens and yerns to the cries of the people.Republicans have tried for 8 years and all we saw was lies and lies.The executive branch has been transformed into a secret cult where democracy and transparency no longer works.I think its time for a democrat to try and the only democrat out there that seem firm,tested and can get this thing from republicans is no other person but Hillary Clinton.

Democrats have got a big decision to make here and my advise is that they look beyond all that skirt and long pant thing,woman and man issues and pick the candidate that can deliver.The Clintons are tough and nightmares to Republicans and it will take them to get the mantle back.

tell Jack Meyer to take a spelling class before he posts....

RONPAUL2008 dot com. I have not seen many blogs, that do not have 90% of the popularity going for Ron Paul. Why is he so popular? He has the same values as most Americans: Liberty, freedom from over-taxation, bring our troops back from Iraq, get corruption out of government and the monitary system, and support the Constitution. I voted for W twice, but now see that things like the Patriot act and going into Iraq were VERY wrong. Ron Paul is the only candidate that is strong in Constitutional beleifs, and not selling out to the first special interest. God Bless you and your families. Ron Paul for President!

Dave: You are VERY much right that our government now has NO transparancy, and the Neo-Cons have led this country awry. RON PAUL is not a Democrat, nor a "current corrupt" Repuplican. Bush and Cheney are very corrupt, which disapoints me, because I voted for them twice. Ron Paul is a perfect candidate for both Democrats and Republicans. Our 2 party system has failed us, but a Libertarian(running as Republican) like Ron Paul gives us a position to ALL agree. RONPAUL2008 dot com

Am I the only person who believes that Hillary will get the Prez. She'll serve 8 years. That will give VPrez Barack 8 years to learn how to be Prez from Hillary and he will serve 8 years. Who knows who Barack will choose for VPrez. How old will John Edwards be in 8 years from now? Barack can choose him.
REPUBLICANS, BEWARE!!!!! I have been a registered Democrat for 59 years. Never was wrong but once. I didn't think a crook like Nixon could be President. Well, maybe make that twice, I don't know why George hasn't been impeached for treason or some other such crime against the U. S. Constitution.

I'm a Mike Lessens from Lowell, MI (near Grand Rapids, MI) and I would like to extend a Michigan hello to my namesake in Wisconsin where I have family. I hope that his opinions will shake things up in the great State of Wisconsin. I just hope that he doesn't vote for Hillary or Obama. If he wants to see politic infighting that drags on for days, months, and years, that's what he'll see in Washington DC with another Democrat in the White House.

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets

Video

Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 29, 2007 6:04 AM.

Sweet column: Vets chief Duckworth mulling House rematch. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet blog extra: Details of Obama health care plan. Obama unveils proposals in Iowa City Tuesday morning. is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.