Family PAC Cruises Lake Michigan

William Kelly, Chad Koppie and Steve Baer

William Kelly, Chad Koppie and Steve Baer

My favorite fund raiser of the year is the cruise put on by Family PAC every summer.

Jim Wozniak aims to re-capture a Quad Cities State Rep. seat for the Republicans.

Jim Wozniak aims to re-capture a Quad Cities State Rep. seat for the Republicans.

On the drive down to Chicago, it was raining and 65 degrees. We feared for the worst, wondering if the boat would have an awning to keep off us dry.

Former State Rep. Penny Pullen and DuPage County Auditor and CPA Bob Grogan, running for the GOP nomination for State Treasurer.

Former State Rep. Penny Pullen and DuPage County Auditor and CPA Bob Drogan, running for the GOP nomination for State Treasurer.

After Des Plaines, however, the drizzle stopped. The temperature increased. We still wondered if the storm would reach Chicago’s waterfront.

Peter Breen was going to run for State Rep. a couple of years ago, but decided not to.  He talks with Family PAC lobbyist Sharee Lagenstein, who may run for Rep. Mike Bost's seat as he seeks a promotion to Congress.

Peter Breen was going to run for State Rep. a couple of years ago, but decided not to. He talks with Family PAC lobbyist Sharee Lagenstein, who may run for Rep. Mike Bost’s seat as he seeks a promotion to Congress.

The first politicians, past and present, encountered were William Kelly, who ran for the GOP Comptroller nomination in 2008, Chad Koppie, announced candidate for the U.S. Senate to challenge Dick Durbin.  Former Republican aspirant for Governor Steve Baer was in on the conversation.

Tuskeegee Airman O Lawton Wilkerson

Tuskegee Airman O. Lawton Wilkerson was joined by Melvin E. Knazze, Sr., a Tuskegee Airman who joined after World War II.

Jim Wozniak was the next candidate I noticed.  He is running to re-take the Phil Moreland seat which was lost after Mike Madigan’s reapportionment of the legislative map.

Radio talk show host Sandy Rios was talking to State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard.

Radio talk show host Sandy Rios was talking to State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard.

Peter Breen, who is trying to unseat incumbent Republican Sandra M. Pihos in the Lombard-Glen Ellyn area, where he served as Lombard’s Acting Mayor, and Family PAC lobbyist Sharee Lagenstein of the Carbondale area were seen chatting.

Bill Brady said he couldn't stay for the cruise, but he paid his respects to Family PAC Executive Director Paul Caprio.

Bill Brady said he couldn’t stay for the cruise, but he paid his respects to Family PAC Executive Director Paul Caprio.

Next I found Tuskegee Airman O. Lawton Wilkerson.  That’s when I knew that something special was occurring on this cruise.  Melvin E. Knazze, Sr., a post World War II Tuskegee Airman also attended.

Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran talks with Danielle Rowe, who ran for State Representative in the three-way contest David McSweeney won, and Sharee Lagenstein.

Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran talks with Danielle Rowe, who ran for State Representative in the three-way contest David McSweeney won, and Sharee Lagenstein.

Two of the four Republican candidates for Illinois Governor were in attendance.

Janet Silosky ran for the GOP nomination for State Rep. last year in the 98th District, but was unsuccessful.

Janet Silosky ran for the GOP nomination for State Rep. last year in the 98th District, but was unsuccessful.

The two were State Senators Kirk Dillard, who went on the cruise, and Bill Brady who met folks before they boarded the boat.

Ralph Rivera greeting Tom Morrison as he boarded the boat.

Ralph Rivera greeting Tom Morrison as he boarded the boat.

I boarded the boat looking for more candidates and elected officials.

Cook County Board of Review member Dan Patlak was present.

Cook County Board of Review member Dan Patlak chatted with Palatine’s Carrie Miller.

Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran was talking with Danielle Rowe and Sharee Lagenstein.

The invitation to Janet Silosky's August 13th fund raiser.

The invitation to Janet Silosky’s August 13th fund raiser.

Janet Silosky was the next candidate I encountered.  She is Plainfield, lost a three-way Republican Primary in 2012, but is intent upon running again against the Democrat who won the race, Natale Manley.

Silosky was the only one to make a monetary pitch to me.  She gave me information saying that Joe Walsh, Jim Oberweis and Ed Petka were headlining a $50 6-8:30 event at the Bolingbrook Country Club on August 13th.

Sean Howard joins State Rep. candidate Mersaydes Young and Water Reclamation District candidate Adam Miguest, both Democrats, in conversation.

Sean Howard joins State Rep. candidate Mersaydes Young and Water Reclamation District candidate Adam Miguest, both Democrats, in conversation.

Evidencing something of  a sea change in attendance patterns were two Demcoratic Party candidates for office.

Mersaydes Young told me she was running for State Representative.

James Meeks

James Meeks

“As a Republican?” I asked.

“No, as a Democrat.”

I asked why she was running and she told me that the incumbent, Democrat Christian Mitchell, who won a narrow primary victory in 2012 and was one of the black legislators who announced he would support the gay marriage bill.

The latter stand seemed to be a motivating factor for Young.

Perhaps I should not have been surprised because the honoree of the night was former State Senator and now full-time Pastor James Meeks.

Lake County to Life leader Bonnie Quirk talks to Bureau-Henry-Stark Regional School Board Trustee Jon Zahm and Jeri Atleson, who is seeking the GOP Lake County Treasurer nomination.

Lake County to Life leader Bonnie Quirk talks to Bureau-Henry-Stark Regional School Board Trustee Jon Zahm and Jeri Atleson, who is seeking the GOP Lake County Treasurer nomination.

Lake County’s Jeri Atleson told me she was running for Lake County Treasurer.

Kendall County Deputy Sheriff John Anthony

Kendall County Deputy Sheriff John Anthony

I missed a number of candidates.

One, caught at the last minute, was John Anthony.

Paul Caprio said that Family PAC was supporting his efforts to be named to the vacancy caused by the resignation of Pam Roth, who is moving to Texas for her husband’s job.

Caprio talked of his exciting life story, including having spent his early years in Chicago’s Cabrini Green.

Meeks gave an inspiring talk after getting the major award of the night.  (That will appear in another article.)

After his talk, State Senator Jim Oberweis continued his tradition of passing out his dairy’s ice cream.

Jim Oberweis

Jim Oberweis

Dan Curry is seeking election to the bench from the far northwestern portion of the Cook County.

Dan Curry

Dan Curry

Erika Harold is running an uphill fight against incumbent Republican incumbent Rodney Davis.  She helped lead singing toward the end of the cruise.

Erika Harold

Erika Harold

As we were disembarking I was introduced to Chris Balkema, who is running for Congress in the 11th District.  He is a member of the Grundy County Board.

Chris Balkema

Chris Balkema

Candidates I did not run into include

  • Doug Truax, who seeks to run against U.S. Senator Dick Durbin next year
  • Dan Sebring, candidate for Congress in Wisconsin’s 4th District
  • Mark Ciscernos, candidate for the Iowa House in the 91st District

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