6.11.2005

A Rundown of the Republican gubernatorial candidates

Well personally, I believe on the IL state GOP has been in self-destruct mode for quite a while. But Governor Rod is unpopular enough to give the leadership a nice shot in the arm. So far, many names have been mentioned, with priority on a person who can win, no matter where they are on the issues. So here is everyone I've heard of so far:

Judy Baar Topinka - Originally from the Chicago area, she is the highest ranking Republican left in IL as the state treasurer, an elected position. She served as state GOP chairman before current one Andy McKenna. She has served 4 years in the state House, 10 years in the state Senate, and 12 years as treasurer. In the most recent election, she won 56% of the vote. Considered a moderate and a defender of abortion and gay rights, she is not extremely popular with grassroots conservatives, making a primary win difficult. Perhaps the party base will be concerned enough about electablility to ignore this. Rumor has it that Karl Rove has suggested that former Gov. Jim Edgar should run with Topinka in the lietenant spot. She has already begun making some trips and fundraising, though like most other candidates, hasn't officially declared herself in.

Jim Edgar - A former governor, he is moderate and extremely popular. He could probably raise more money than any other potential candidate. He would also have name recognition. Easily the best candidate as far as electablility, he has not begun any campaign-like activities. Rumor is that White House strategist Karl Rove is advocating Edgar for the primaries.

Steve Rauschenberger - A state senator for the 22nd district since 1993, he was invoilved with the importing of Alan Keyes for the '04 Senate race. He is the chief budget negotiator for Senate Republicans. He resides in Elgin where he was born, and attended the College of William and Mary. A true conservative, he was plagued by low fundraising in the 2004 US Senate primary, but with the support of the establishment, still got a good share of the vote. Strapped for cash, he pulled publicity stunts to get the public aware about him. He ordered flowers to Jack Ryan after Ryan refused to participate in the primary debate. A campaign theme of his was experience in government, so as a stab at frontrunner Ryan's inexperience, he applied to be the Chicago Bears head coach, and was of course rejected.

Ray LaHood - A US representative from a district covering Peoria and part of Springfield, he won his 6th term with 70% of the vote. A frequent officer of House debates, he ran the precedings against Bill Clinton. He began testing the waters for a run early, appearing at the Whiteside County Lincoln Day Dinner. Unfortunately he has made a habit of attacking fellow Republicans, including forcing Jack Ryan out of his bid over a sex scandal, and foretelling US Rep. Phil Crane's impending defeat. His stances are mostly conservative, especially socially, but he has moderate streaks on the environment and taxes, and is considered liberal on illegal immigration.

James "Jim" Oberweis - Owner of Oberweis Dairy in Chicago, he got second in the 2004 Senate primaries after spending much of his own money on the run. His is firmly against illegal immigration. He is the only Republican candidate officailly declared for the governors race so far. Both in the 2002 and 2004 Senate primaries, he was endorsed by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

Other names mentioned such as former governor Jim Thompson (and a member of the 9/11 commission), former US Senator Patrick Fitzgerald, and current IL GOP chairman Andy McKenna are not, at this time, considered potential candidates. If any more names surface, I'll update everyone.

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