Penny Pullen’s Endorsement of Andy McKenna, Reaction and Response

About the same time the Northwest Herald was endorsing Jim Ryan, the man whose buddy and over-$800,000-contributor arranged (without Ryan’s knowledge) for Mercy Hospital to gain approval from the Illinois Health Facilitates Planning Board, my friend former State Rep. Penny Pullen was endorsing Andy McKenna. Below you see the front of the pamphlet I’ll be distributing in my precinct for Ryan.

The same day of the NW Herald endorsement, I received a mailing from McKenna emphasizing his stand against raising taxes, something that McKenna is bashing both Ryan and Kirk Dillard on not promising.

The front runner for governor, according to a now-probably-outdated Chicago Tribune poll, was former Attorney General Ryan.  The three second tier candidates were Andy McKenna, Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady.  They had about half the percentage Ryan showed.

Here’s pro-life leader Pullen’s endorsemen of McKennat:

Conservative Leader Penny Pullen Endorses
Andy McKenna for Governor

Key conservative endorsement in final weeks of campaign

Highlights McKenna’s work to defeat tax increases

CHICAGO – Conservative pro-life/pro-family leader and former State Representative Penny Pullen today endorsed Andy McKenna for Governor of Illinois. Pullen is one of the most influential and respected leaders in the conservative movement in Illinois.

“It is with the utmost honor that I accept this endorsement from such a respected leader in the conservative and pro-life community,” said McKenna. “Penny’s endorsement is further indication that top leaders and activists across the state are joining our campaign.”

“Andy McKenna is just the person we need to lead us out of the fiscal mess Democrats have put us in,” said Pullen. “His background as a successful business leader gives him insight and strong determination to advocate for taxpayers and for job creators.

“Further, I like the fact that Andy McKenna knows his way around Springfield — as former state GOP chairman — but has not been a part of the Springfield problem; quite the contrary — he has a proven track record of working to defeat tax increases.

The inside of the Jim Ryan precinct piece.

“I believe Andy’s conservative credentials make him the best Republican to win in November, and I trust him to promote strong traditional family policies and justice for vulnerable human beings at any age.”

Pullen served 16 years as a member of the Illinois General Assembly, served on three councils under Presidents Reagan and Bush, is a former Illinois GOP National Committeewoman, and founder of the Illinois Family Institute. Pullen resides in Arlington Heights.

An associate from years past who seems to think he is more of a “Movement Conservative” than Penny replied that he couldn’t understand Penny’s endorsement. He also questioned McKenna’s intellect.

He said he expected Penny would be in the camp of two candidates that registered about 2% on the Tribune poll.

Here is Penny’s reply:

The inside of the Andy McKenna mailing that came the same day the Northwest Herald endorsed Jim Ryan.

My endorsement is based on what I know, not on what others say.

How nice to hear from you. Brings back old times. Really old times!

I know that Andy met with pro-life/pro-family leaders not once but several times, at his own initiative while state chairman. I know that no other state chairman in my time of involvement in the Republican Party had done that even once. I know that whatever we laid before him, he listened to with respect and attention, responded to, and on everything he agreed to do (which was most), he pursued it thoroughly (even if without fanfare).

I know that he committed the State GOP to join the Marriage-Amendment petition process the second time around — the time he was asked to — but the organizers themselves chose not to move ahead, so this initiative ended up not becoming public.

I know that he exerted great personal effort to prevent Republican legislators from voting for the RTA/DuPage sales tax and wrecking the GOP brand, only to be undercut by Bob Schillerstrom at the last minute. I know that he worked against the Dem income tax hike.

I know that he sought to get the McCain people (who controlled the process) to name at least one pro-life/family at-large delegate (by name) to the 2008 National Convention. I know that he went into the delegation selection committee (controlled by the McCainiacs) at the state convention and publicly argued that Jim Thompson and Bob Schillerstrom were unworthy to be named to the Illinois delegation and then called down the committee in front of the entire convention, specifically criticizing them for including Thompson & Schillerstrom.

I know that he worked to raise funds for specific conservative campaigns.

I believe – and trust – based on much interaction with him, that he is a heart-committed pro-lifer.

Yes, his chief pursuit in his campaign for governor is to get spending under control and give the entrepreneurs who are still left in Illinois an opportunity to build ventures that succeed and offer workers an opportunity to feed their families. Controlling spending and taxes used to be important to conservatives; that agenda is still important to me and appears to me to be of critical importance in 2010.

The address side of Andy McKenna's mailing also talkks about holding the line on taxes.

It was Andy McKenna alone who outlined a concrete agenda for getting the state’s fiscal disaster under control while addressing the Tribune editorial board; it was Andy McKenna alone who criticized the lousy quality taxpayers are getting for the billions we spend on public schools. (I watched the interviews online.)

I am aware that Andy is reserved; as someone who has seen him at work, I reject your assertion that he is intellectually weak. And I am personally aware that he has a good ability to choose the right strategy after collecting sufficient information to make an informed choice.

I knew that my endorsement would not be popular, because I know all the buzz that has attached itself to his name.

Someone sometime has to stand up for what they know to be true and not just listen to the buzz.

I have confidence in Andy McKenna, because I have good reason to. And by the way, I haven’t forgotten who I am.

Thanks for asking.


PS – I would not be found in the Adam or Dan camp for various and good reasons. But I choose not to bash other candidates or their supporters, so I won’t go into that.

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Click to enlarge any image.

There is a certain irony to Jim Ryan's use of a Chicago Tribune quote to try to convince voters to support him for governor. The Tribune endorsed Andy McKenna.


Penny Pullen’s Endorsement of Andy McKenna, Reaction and Response — 2 Comments

  1. “Andy [McKenna] met with pro-life/pro-family leaders”

    Can you elaborate, Penny:
    — What did he actually accomplish for the pro-life cause?
    — Why didn’t he proactively offer to help PMI — like the volunteers did?
    — What will McKenna do to end abortion and to protect marriage during his term?
    — Do you believe that a 5-yr party chairman may be honestly, genuinely characterized as an “outsider”???

    Is this really all it takes to appease us lately?

  2. In the contest for governor of Illinois, I am supporting Andy McKenna.

    Andy is a businessman and, taking a businesslike approach to the State’s financial mess, is the only candidate in either party who has laid out a detailed, credible plan to pull Illinois out of the chasm without raising taxes. The contrast between him and two other leading candidates, interviewed together at the Tribune editorial board, was stark. McKenna was the one candidate who had an actual plan; the others offered the usual political platitudes allowing for “flexibility” – the kind of flexibility that opens the door to tax increases and undercuts the principles of the Republican Party.

    Andy McKenna is a conservative. He has demonstrated that time and again during his four years as State Republican Chairman.

    Throughout my 40-some years of active involvement in the Illinois Republican Party, I have never before seen a state chairman reach out even once to pro-life/family conservatives. Andy McKenna initiated a consultation with conservative leaders soon after becoming Chairman; he met repeatedly with us, listened to our concerns and to our requests, offered his own perspective and followed through on everything he agreed to undertake on behalf of our causes. (Is this news to many conservatives? I cannot fault Andy, in his role as State Chairman, for not seeking fanfare around these meetings; part of his role was promoting party unity. The important thing is, he reached out, and he followed through.)

    At our request, Andy committed the State Republican Party to embrace the Marriage Amendment and mobilize the party apparatus behind gathering sufficient signatures to put it on the ballot; this was after the first attempt (where, as far as I know, party backing had not been sought), when the petition drive did not produce enough signatures for a sufficient cushion and the amendment was kept off the ballot. Andy communicated his commitment to the organizers, and he took the proposition to the GOP County Chairmen’s Assn. and secured an endorsement for the initiative from the party’s county leaders in order to get the job done. Marriage Amendment organizers chose not to move forward, for a variety of reasons of their own, therefore the State GOP backing did not become public knowledge, but Andy did what we asked of him.

    When Gov. Quinn was pushing his 50% income tax increase in 2009, Andy McKenna mounted a personal lobbying campaign against it and has been credited, in Crain’s Chicago Business, for having played the critical role in keeping Republican lawmakers off that proposal, which failed. He had earlier exerted great personal effort to persuade Republican legislators not to vote for the RTA/DuPage-bailout six-county sales tax, only to be undercut by DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom delivering the votes of three Republican Senators at the last minute.

    Andy worked to raise funds for specific conservative campaigns, and he sought to get the McCain people (who controlled the process) to name at least one pro-life/family at-large delegate (by name) to the 2008 National Convention. When they set up their own delegate slate without Andy’s nominee, he went into the delegate selection committee (controlled by the McCain people) at the state convention and publicly argued that Jim Thompson and Bob Schillerstrom were unworthy to be named to the Illinois delegation and then called down the committee in front of the entire convention, specifically criticizing them for including Thompson and Schillerstrom. This demonstrates not only a commitment to conservatism but also determination to break from the past and a healthy dose of political courage, something I seldom see in GOP leaders.

    I believe – and trust – based on much interaction with him, that Andy McKenna is a heart-committed pro-lifer.

    His chief pursuit in his campaign for Governor is to get spending under control, prevent a tax increase, and give entrepreneurs an opportunity to build ventures that succeed and offer workers an opportunity to feed their families. Controlling spending and defeating tax hikes ought to be a high priority for conservatives. Though my pro-life advocacy might be the cause for which I am best known and the one that takes the majority of my time and heart commitment, limiting government and putting the state’s fiscal house in order are still important to me – as when I spent four years repealing the inheritance tax in 1979-1982 – and this agenda appears to me to be of critical importance in 2010, not just for political success but especially for the struggling families of Illinois.

    Another important distinction between Andy and his principal opponents: He has criticized the poor quality taxpayers are getting for the billions we spend on public schools; during theTribune editorial board interview (which I watched online at, he called down both Jim Ryan and Kirk Dillard (who were being interviewed at the same time) for even leaving open the possibility of finding a way to shovel more taxpayers’ money into the public schools. I find this attitude – and this boldness – refreshing.

    On many fronts, McKenna doesn’t sound like just one more politician. His business background means more than a checkoff on his bio. He brings business principles and a businessman’s approach to pulling the State back from the financial brink, and those principles and that approach preclude a tax increase; he makes that quite clear. Indeed, he excoriates the “flexibility” on higher taxes advocated by his fellow contestants.

    Some motivated by their backing of other candidates, some motivated by envy, some who are unaware of the actual role and responsibility of a party state/county/township chairman, some who simply repeat what they “know” because these others have said or written it, are critical of Andy McKenna and even disdainful. I have observed McKenna at somewhat closer range than some others during the past five years. I have seen him work with me and others to build a more conservative, principled Republican Party in Illinois. I support him from my personal knowledge and from having verified my own impressions with others I trust who have worked with him in other roles. I have asked him tough questions and have been satisfied by his answers and by his direct manner of answering.

    I have endorsed Andy McKenna for Governor, because I believe he is the one candidate who can deliver without compromise on the opportunity 2010 offers Illinois Republicans and conservatives. I am happy to share these observations, because with seven candidates for Governor listed on the ballot, voters need facts on which to base their choices and because the facts which have contributed to my endorsement are drawn from first-hand knowledge. Someone some time has to stand up for what (she) knows is right and not merely echo the buzz.

    McKenna has done all we’ve asked when we’ve actually asked. It’s time for Illinois conservatives to return the favor – and do ourselves and our families a favor at the same time. Voting early or voting on Feb. 2, please vote for Andy McKenna for Governor.

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