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You may be wondering whether your good friend Illiniguy was re-elected to the Illinois General Assembly last Tuesday. Well, I won by eight points against a guy who didn’t do anything in the way of campaigning.
In what was supposed to be a red wave year, even here in the Peoples’ Republic, we managed to reduce our numbers in the House from 45 to 39 out of 118. My margin of victory tells me that there’s a lot of work to do in re-establishing our brand with the voters. After the dust settled, I sent the following message to our surviving members:
After the Bay of Pigs fiasco, John Kennedy famously noted: “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.” The recent election has shown us, however, that failure can have just as many fathers as success.
None of what I’m about to say is spoken in a vacuum. Given the results of the election nationwide, it’s obvious that our party is still in the thrall of a personality cult that’s been hung around our necks whether we like it or not. The Democrats have been able to do with Donald Trump what we were never able to do with Mike Madigan. Nor did it help when the top of our ticket followed him around the country shamelessly begging for his endorsement. Even if we wanted to run independently of that, how much worse would it have been last Tuesday when we’d have been labeled as disloyal by the base whose support we so desperately needed?
The most obvious excuse is that we lack the resources to put our message out to the public. But more important than that is the message itself. Regardless of how much money we might have had available to us, the message of those who most loudly banged their spoons on their high chairs became the message that the Democrats used to paint us all as extremists.
When the top of the ticket described Chicago as a hellhole, when the grifters, sycophants and enablers who rammed this ticket down our throats in the primary ran on a platform of absolutism on positions that have been rejected by the overwhelming majority of voters in this state, the cake was baked. Unless we make a concerted effort to moderate our policies and our message toward the middle, where I’m convinced most of the people of Illinois reside, what happened last Tuesday doesn’t constitute the floor for us as a caucus, but the ceiling.
Those grifters, sycophants and enablers who either believed they were on a mission from God or were merely interested in lining their pockets did a great job. JB Pritzker didn’t need to use all the money he spent to get the candidate he wanted; that absolutism became the message that was used to describe us all. We did this to ourselves.
I believe in the old saying “de mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est”, but we can’t ignore what could have been done by the current Leadership but was not. (House Minority Leader) Jim Durkin was failed by his circle of trust. A lot of that had to do with his early support of the crew that was running the (Republican Governor candidate) Irvin campaign on cruise control and was more interested in milking the cash cow from its headquarters in Tennessee than actually doing the job it was hired to do. But that wasn’t all. We were failed by the organization that was set up to support our caucus. It got involved in contested primaries instead of putting that money behind uncontested Republican candidates to boost name recognition of those who were certain to be on the general election ballot in November. In a map year, when even incumbents are relatively unknown, that would have been money much better spent. What messaging that did come out of the mother ship was lame. “Such and such voted for his/her own pay raise!” and of course whenever possible “Madigan!”
Those of us who are incumbents and are returning to the General Assembly need to look in the mirror as well. If we were unopposed, did we do enough to support other candidates who needed our help when providing that support might have done some good? In the end, maybe that was too big a lift given what we saw nationwide. However, if we intend to go forward as a unified caucus, we need to think hard about that, because we’re on our own.
The most obnoxious of those grifters, having been forwarded the email intended for caucus consumption only, is already on the warpath against me.
I hope to be able to advance my priorities, and am fortunate to have good relationships with members on the other side of the aisle, especially when it comes to the issue of child welfare. We’ll see. Stay tuned.Published in