Or Did Failure To Adequately Energize Pro-Family Conservative Base Play A Role In His Defeat? Did Voters Chose To Continue Democratic Legacy Of Corruption In Illinois? Or Did Brady Lose Because He Did Not Distinguish Himself From His Democratic Foe?
Bill Brady’s Loss To Pat Quinn: Was The Illinois Gubernatorial Election Stolen?
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Let me preface this column by saying I voted for Bill Brady for Governor. I am the Republican Committeeman for Lincoln West 4 in Logan County. I distributed literature regarding the Brady campaign, including yard signs, etc. I know the State Senator from Bloomington personally. Brady had an excellent pro-family voting record in the Illinois State Senate.
Brady recently conceded victory to incumbent Governor Pat Quinn. One of Quinn’s first public comments essentially said his election proved he had a mandate from the electorate to raise taxes in Illinois. Of course, this is absurd and the results from most elections nationwide demonstrated the American people rejected the premise of the high taxation, big government model advanced by the Democratic Party en masse.
But I’d like to address why I believe Brady lost to Quinn. To be brutally honest, I am perplexed why Brady made little or no attempt to court and energize the Republican Party’s conservative political base during most of his gubernatorial campaign. Those included in the GOP’s social and fiscal conservative base are individuals, leaders of organizations and politicians who support the state and national Republican Party platforms. Just a few of the issues included in the Illinois GOP platform are support for the right to life, support for traditional marriage, support of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment (which clearly states Americans have the right to bear arms) and opposition to big government, higher taxation and all the trappings of liberalism which, if adhered to, distinguish Republicans from Democrats.
On February 15th, 2010, shortly after Brady was officially declared the winner of the GOP gubernatorial primary, Rich Miller of Capitol Fax, who is also a syndicated columnist, wrote a piece which, in essence, suggested Brady downplay his pro-family voting record and run his campaign as a moderate. I responded to Miller’s column by stating Brady needed to stand by his excellent conservative voting record in the Illinois State Senate, but it seems my advice to Brady lost out to Mr. Miller’s counsel (see related articles below).
Many Americans are not aware that governorships are probably the most important elected office in the land. Governors control state patronage, they drive the political agenda advanced by their parties, even though state legislators are responsible for writing legislation. In actuality, when it comes to the every day lives of state residents, governors wield much more power than members of the U.S. Senate, by approving or vetoing legislation passed by a state legislature. Governors control a slew of state agencies and their influence on presidential races is something that cannot be underestimated. Governors control a political apparatus that is matched by no other office, other than the presidency. Also, probably most important is the fact governors will play a huge role in redrawing the boundaries for districts of State Senators and State Representatives. It’s called gerrymandering, a form of boundary redistricting in which electoral districts (constituency boundaries) are intentionally modified for electoral purposes which create districts which follow no rhyme or reason.
Governor Quinn now will have the power to ensure some districts stay Democratic and take away the political power of those who reside in districts which usually vote Republican. Frankly, gerrymandering is an obscene practice that should be outlawed, no matter which Party holds the governorship. But it is what it is and, for the next ten years, it will be harder for Republicans to defeat Democrats and the legislation they support.
Brady’s primary victory was a total surprise to the combine which includes some of the Republican establishment and the Daley Democratic Machine. Brady’s victory over State Senator Kirk Dillard; former GOP Chairman Andy McKenna; and former Attorney General Jim Ryan took the Republican establishment by total surprise and, although a great deal of money was pumped into Brady’s gubernatorial campaign by the Republican Party, the message that was being sent to Illinois voters gave the impression Brady was just another Republican in name only. The strategy was simple, but I believe dooming.
The Republican Party’s conservative base, especially in northern Illinois, was not made aware that the State Senator from Bloomington was pro-life, pro-traditional marriage and a staunch defender of the right to bear arms. In fact, after the primary, those running Brady’s campaign seemed to go out of their way to downplay Brady’s pro-family voting record. Therefore, this resulted in a Republican base that was hardly energized, to say the least.
One of the problems, outside of central Illinois, was hundreds of thousands of pro-family leaning Illinois voters knew little or nothing about Brady, besides the fact he was a Republican. Many of these are people who hold fast to traditional values and they work hard and often only learn about a candidate by watching television ads. Few have the time to research a candidate’s voting record. And, believe it or not, not everyone uses the Internet, especially elderly voters. Those of us who follow politics closely live in a political bubble. The assumption is everyone knows about the record of respective candidates regarding issues they care about and nothing could be further from the truth.
But months into Brady’s gubernatorial campaign, I started hearing from pro-family leaders and activists who were wondering why Brady seemed to be running away from the issues they cared about.
The straw that may have broke the camel’s back is when a reporter recently asked Brady if he would march in a “gay” pride parade and Brady responded by saying, “it depends”. Brady later attempted to undo the damage resulting from that remark. However, the damage was done and his comment went viral over the Internet.
I know Brady would never march in a Chicago “gay” pride parade where homosexual men on floats perform sexual acts—some simulated, some real. The parade is noted for its violations of public obscenity statutes and the Chicago police stand by and do nothing about it. After Brady’s comment, reliable sources told me his campaign was deluged by phone calls from pro-family activists and the general public who were wondering why Brady would make such a statement.
An early indication that some social and fiscal conservatives were not going to enthusiastically support Brady in the general election began when I started receiving e-mails and phone calls from conservative Republicans shortly after Brady’s primary victory who were not happy with some of Brady’s positions on illegal immigration. Also, there were a considerable number of Republican voters who were committed to the passage of SB600, a bill that would have given more power to Republican voters by taking some of the decision-making over the election of party officials out of the hands of a few GOP insiders. Brady changed his stance on SB600 and fell in line with the Republican establishment who opposed SB600, thereby alienating a significant number of conservatives who supported the Senate Bill. Therefore, from the beginning, there were many conservative party activists who had a problem with Brady.
But Brady’s apparent move to the political center in his general election campaign was buoyed by polling which sometimes indicated he had a double digit lead over Pat Quinn. Therefore, whether Brady was running to the political center on his own or taking the advice of the Republican political establishment, it seemed the strategy was working.
I sent one of many e-mails to Brady himself and some of his closest political consultants warning that Pat Quinn and the Daley Democratic Machine were not going to roll over and play dead in the general election for governor when so much was at stake. I advised the Brady campaign that if the Democrats could not win the election outright, they would find a way to steal it from Brady and the 10 point lead in the polls meant relatively nothing.
If Brady had made a greater attempt to woo his conservative base, some believe he would have ran away with the election. Even some of his most staunch supporters from downstate Illinois, including an influential pro-life leader, told me Brady had nothing on his web site regarding his position on abortion or other issues social conservatives care deeply about, but this individual told me he was still going to cast his vote for the State Senator from Bloomington. However, even he was questioning whether Brady, if elected, would govern as his past record indicated or as the centrist he was being portrayed as during the run up to the general election. But it appears we will never find out the answer to that question.
Did a significant number of Republicans stay home because they were disenchanted with Mark Kirk, who was at the head of the Illinois GOP ticket? Kirk’s voting record in Congress reflected the views of a radical liberal, abandoning the Republican Party platforms (state and national) at every turn. Kirk voted for Cap and Trade, but after he received much criticism for that vote, he claimed if he could have a do over, he would have voted against Cap and Trade. Kirk was included in a small group of Republicans and Democrats who voted against the ban on partial-birth abortion which was overwhelmingly passed. Kirk has a terrible rating with Second Amendment rights supporters. And his voting record is as far left as you can get. He is truly what people call a Republican In Name Only. I could go on and on about Kirk, yet he was elected to the U.S. Senate by Illinois voters.
I believe those in the Republican Party leadership intentionally downplayed Brady’s conservative credentials, in the attempt to make Mark Kirk more palatable to Illinois voters. Some are already alleging that Brady’s pro-family voting record was the reason he lost, even though Brady had the endorsement of nearly every major newspaper in the state of Illinois.
I fervently believe you should run a campaign, according to who you are, not according to what others want you to be. We will never know what could have happened if Brady had run just one ad, saying, “I’m pro-life; I believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman; and I support the right of Illinois citizens to bear arms.” According to polling, these are all positions which are supported by a majority of the American people. Yet members of the state and national Republican Party are convinced those who make their pro-family views clear and known to the electorate are doomed to lose general elections.
This is contrary to the historical model. Everyone knew Ronald Reagan was pro-life and a steadfast social conservative. And George W. Bush, well known as a pro-family conservative, won two presidential elections. In fact, the last time a Republican candidate at the top of the Illinois GOP ticket won a statewide election was in 1998 when Peter Fitzgerald defeated incumbent Carol Moseley-Braun in a race for the U.S. Senate. Fitzgerald was as pro-family as you can get and ran his campaign as a pro-family candidate. But Fitzgerald received virtually no support from state Party leaders and he had to spend millions of dollars of his personal wealth to run a viable campaign.
Oh, let’s not forget George Ryan who ran as a pro-family candidate and became Governor in 1998. After elected, one of the first thing he did as Governor was veto an important piece of pro-life legislation and after doing so went on to say anyone who believed promises he made during his campaign was, essentially a fool. Ryan was definitely a member of the Republican establishment and we will all know where Ryan is now…in jail.
There is this myth that pro-family conservatives should run away from their political legacies, in order to obtain victory. This myth has never been validated in Illinois and perhaps that is why we end up electing people like Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn. Judy Baar Topinka’s gubernatorial bid failed miserably, but not one Republican Party leader cited the reason for her loss was due to the fact she was too liberal. Yet GOP leaders are quick to point out when a social conservative loses.
Here’s a decision that has to be made by the Republican Party leadership in Illinois: Either change the Illinois Republican Party platform—which would go against the Party’s national platform and the rising tide of conservatism that is sweeping the nation—or abide by both the state and national Republican Party platforms and fully support candidates who do, with no strings attached.
If you look at the current electoral gubernatorial map of the United States, especially in the Midwest, Illinois now sticks out like a sore thumb. Republicans won the governor’s races in Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio. Why did we lose in Illinois? Republican candidates nearly swept Democrats out of office, except in corrupt-ridden states like ours.
I could be totally wrong. Brady might have lost the governor’s race, no matter how he ran his campaign. But I do know this: The Republican elite in Illinois believes pro-family candidates are a drag on the GOP. They will use Kirk’s election to try to prove that fact. I also do not know whether Brady decided to downplay his conservative credentials on his own and hope that the Republican tsunami would lift all boats, no matter how he ran. There is also the possibility Party heads demanded that Brady run his campaign by bringing as little attention as possible to the fact he is pro-life, pro-traditional marriage and pro-Second Amendment. Only the Brady campaign knows these facts. But the truth is, Brady lost when he shouldn’t have. In fact, many believe if any Republican should have lost in Illinois, it should have been Mark Kirk, not Bill Brady.
The biggest losers in all of this are the people of Illinois. Pat Quinn will raise taxes, he just told so. Businesses will continue to flee the state because of high taxation and more government regulations. And a man who would have made an outstanding governor is now on the outside, looking in. There are individuals far more intelligent than I who will be analyzing Brady’s loss in the months to come. I don’t know whether we will ever receive an honest answer to the questions I posed above.