John Kass lamented the lack of an Illinois Scott Walker last Thursday.
He certainly is asking the right question:
“Where is Illinois’ Scott Walker?”
I was tempted to prepare a sign to affix to me chest asking.
“Are you the Illinois Scott Walker?”
but didn’t get around to it.
That thought pretty much left my mind until Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady started throwing red meat to the audience at the Tinley Park Convention.
“Isn’t it nice to see courage rewarded?” Brady asked after explaining his joy at watching Walker beat back the Democrats’ recall effort.
He noted with irony and derision Pat Quinn’s reaction, “Illinois is different.”
“We are under the thumb of a controlling, vindictive, ethically challenged, self-serving leprechaun, and I mean no disrespect to leprechauns, Speaker Mike Madigan,” Brady said, setting the tone of the gathering.
Brady pointed out that a mere 5,000 votes in the right House districts could have made Tom Cross Speaker.
And just 31,000 votes would have meant Bill Brady would have been elected Governor, instead of Quinn.
A pick of six seats in the Senate and six in the House would turn control over to the GOP.
Next came speeches by elected officials.
First up was Peoria’s Aaron Schock, first elected in 2008.
He told of passing federal free trade legislation for Columbia and having received a call from the CEO of Caterpillar Corporation, based in his home town. He was congratulated and told the a new plant would be built that would create 1,400 new jobs.
But, that the plant would not be build in Illinois because of our Workers’ Comp and tort liability laws.
“If we keep the same boneheads in Springfield, we won’t get the benefits,” Schock said.
House Minority Leader Tom Cross was next.
Signaling a line of attack against Democrats outside of Chicago, he pledged opposition to Mike Madigan’s and John Cullerton’s proposal to transfer $20 billion of teacher pension burden from state taxpayers to property taxpayers.
The man whose rant against Madigan’s one-man rule spread throughout television and the internet was introduced next.
“We want Mike! We want Mike!” spread throughout the room.
“If you take one thing out of this, other states don’t have one person that has total power,” Bost emphasized. “That’s a dictatorship!”
Former State Rep. and State Senator Randy Hultgren, elected to Congress in 2010 followed former colleague Bost.
“Illinois is broke.
“Illinois is broken.
“Reduced to a punchline.”
He told of being in Indiana and talked to its Governor, Mitch Daniels.
“Being Governor in the state next to Illinois is like living next to Homer Simpson. Anything you do looks good.
“If Wisconsin can do it, Illinois can do it,” Hultgren concluded.
Adam Kinzinger, also elected in 2010, was next up.
“America is the greatest hope for civilization,” the Air Force pilot, now in the Illinois National Guard, started out.
He observed that young folks signing up for the Armed Forces today at age 18 were only 7 on 9-11.
“America is worth defending and I will defend it,” he said movingly.
“The American DNA is a winning DNA.
“The defense of this country also extends here at home.
“We have to beat Mike Madigan.
“We have to build a brick wall in Illinois” so Nancy Pelosi’s prediction that “the route to the [Democratic Party congressional] majority goes through Illinois.,”Kinzinger concluded.
Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno stepped to the podium.
“We need reinforcements.
“We can’t do it without you.
“You are the grass roots.
“The wave is coming and we’re going to ride it.”
Brady then introduced Congressman Joe Walsh, also in his first term.
He noted that Walsh got no help from the Republican Party in his narrow victory over Democrat Melissa Bean, but “that won’t happen again.”
“There is no person they want to beat more than Joe Walsh.”
Walsh entered to a standing ovation.
He began his speech by relating that he was a naturally smiling Irish Catholic guy.
Then there was the “but.”
“I did not go to Washington last year to smile.
“There’s very little subtle about Joe Walsh.
“When I say the President has not freaking clue what he is doing, I mean every word of it.”
Then Walsh took after Mike Madigan.
“No one person should run a state.
“He is a king.
“He is a dictator.
“He is corrupt.
“He symbolizes everything that is wrong in Illinois.
“Shame on us for not having the courage and the fortitude to say that.”
Moving on to his re-election race against Tammy Duckworth, whose name he did not mention, Walsh said, “This White House and the entire Demcoratic Party has a target on my back.
He explained that he “just goe[es] and say[s] what [he] mean[s].
“Amazing things begin to happen.”
Walsh referenced John Kass’ column:
“Where is Illinois’ Scott Walker?”
[At this point I began wondering if he was standing on the stage.]
“The Republican Party has been compliant.
“We’ve lost our way.
“Every nine minutes somebody move out of this state,” he said emphasizing it was taxpayers moving elsewhere.
“We can’t let that happen.”
Ratcheting up the rhetoric Walsh proclaimed Illinois Republicans “must stand for everything that the Mike Madigans don’t.
“We don’t stand for making everybody dependent on government.
“We stand for the opposite.
“We’re the party of everything else.
“I’m gong to ask you to be responsible for your own life.”
Another standing ovation occurred after Walsh finished his speech.
Freshman Congressman Bobby Shilling spoke next.
I didn’t get a chance to take notes, but I did get a decent close-up.
After him State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, head of the Mitt Romney effort in Illinois in 2008 and 2012, spoke.
He is widely thought to be laying the groundwork for a campaign for Governor in 2014.
A video greeting from State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka completed the speeches.
The Chicago Tribune article by Rick Pearson failed to mention that Walsh even spoke, not to mention that he was greeted with a standing ovation and another one after he finished his speech.
He did note the attacks on Mike Madigan.
= = = = =
In the John Kass piece, the columnist mentions Walsh, but not favorably.
“I’m not talking about a Republican who’d scream with veins popping out of his or her neck and a wild angry look in the eye. If you want someone in your face, you’ve got Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, and you can have him. What was compelling about Walker wasn’t his in-you-face personality. It was his ideas.”
But, as Party Chairman Pat Brady reporting Demcoratic Party Governor as saying, Illinois is different.”
From the crowd’s reaction to Walsh, I think Kass’ take on Walsh was not shared by a large proportion of the Republicans in attendance.