Several weeks ago I wrote a post talking about the perceived “civil war” in the Illinois Republican Party, in which I took to task those who would position themselves in the middle of the battlefield and then attack both sides.
As we move closer to the March primary and the November general election, it’s time to examine exactly what’s at stake for Illinois and what the best strategy is for assuring that there is at least one body in state government that stands against the worst of whatever happens, regardless of who’s elected Governor.
We have a Republican Governor who has shown himself to be untrustworthy and, because of that, has invited a primary challenge. It’s widely assumed that he’s unelectable. I’m not so sure, because the Democrat challengers who’ve surfaced have shown themselves to be nothing more than a pandering mob that will make the situation even worse. I mean, do you want a $15 per hour minimum wage? A government-run workers’ compensation company that will be funded with 10 million of your tax dollars? Making a resolution by a local government objecting to the state’s prevailing wage law a criminal offense? Do you want another billionaire who thinks that Governor is an entry-level position?
Please don’t consider this to be an endorsement of Bruce Rauner. It’s not. No matter who’s elected Governor in 2018, this state is in trouble. We’ve endured nearly 4 years of dysfunction, and there’s a strong likelihood that the next 4 won’t be any better, especially if the next Governor is named Kennedy, Biss or Pritzker.
And it’ll be even worse if the Democrats reclaim their super-majority in the House. Take the 3 bills referenced above. All that stood between legislative sanity and those bills becoming law were House Republicans who drove down the vote for the minimum wage (61-53), upheld the veto of the workers’ comp bill (65-50) and the prevailing wage bill (70-42). We’ve held the line on those and many other bills which would make Illinois an even bigger economic clown car than it is now.
The only sure guarantee of there being an adult in the room after the 2018 election is if Republicans increase their numbers in the House by the nine seats it will take to take the Speaker’s gavel out of the hands of the Democrats.
Say what you want about a failure of leadership with the budget votes, but put the blame where it belongs. The frustration of our caucus doesn’t belong with our leadership; it belongs squarely in the lap of the Governor. For a guy who made his fortune closing deals, this administration has shown itself to be utterly incapable of understanding what can and cannot be done when it’s a minority player in each house.
So how do Republicans add nine seats our caucus? We don’t do it with cranial flatulence such as this from the “outsider” running in the 82nd District primary:
“Too many longtime Republicans take the easy way out and surrender to the Democrats rather than fight for fiscal prudence and our future.”
What you call “surrender” is a concession to the reality of simple math. In case you haven’t looked: THE DEMOCRATS HAVE MORE MEMBERS ON THEIR SIDE OF THE AISLE THAN WE DO. Run as an outsider all you want, even if you get elected, your presence won’t add one more Republican to the House. Unless we pick up those nine seats, all your talk about fiscal prudence will crash upon the reality of a House controlled by the same knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who’ve controlled this state for decades.
Republicans have a long history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and this descent into tribalism is nothing more than a variation on that theme. We are not going to succeed so long as those who fancy themselves to be kingmakers insist on eating their own.