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September 15, 2005

Picnicking with the GOP...

Having recently enjoyed an afternoon at the RICO Dems' annual chicken fry -- first one I'd been to for a while -- decided to have some BBQ with the Republicans at their annual to-do tonight.

Nice evening. Renewed some old acquaintances, made a couple new ones. The rain held down the crowd a little. County chairman Tom Getz said about 175 pork chops were served, fewer even than the 250 that sold in advance. The stay-at-homes missed a pleasant time.

The pie auction was fun. Pies were supposed to have been baked by candidates, though there were admittedly one or two hot from Village Inn. Steve Haring, who'll be taking on Mike Boland in District 71 next year, gets bragging rights from the auction. One of his pies -- the strawberry, I think -- got $60.

Brian Gilliland, who aspires to Congress, had a "Lane Evans pie" -- described it as ''all nice and attractive on the outside but nothing on the inside." Only got 11 bucks for it.

Seems certain the Republicans are going to have their three-way primary to pick out who'll run against Rep. Evans next year. Andrea Zinga, who wants a second crack, couldn't make the picnic. She's down in Louisiana, shooting film of disaster scenes. Some of it's running on Channel 8, her stand-in said. In the meantime, Andrea wants everyone's suppport.

Gilliland, whose nicknames include "Gilligan", after the character in that old TV show, said we need plans so that Democrats, Republicans and Indepedents alike can work together to save us from "Our Island of Shrinking Opportunties." That's kind of a theme for him -- his handout says that as things go along, he'd like everyone to decide to"support 'Gilligan' and help ME lead US off this Island!"

Jim Mowen, the third guy, said the biggest problem he's fighting at the moment is the wide-spread notion that Mr. Evans can't be beat.

But he's optimistic, which is always nice to see in a new politician. Said positive alternatives, presented positively, can pull voters 'cross the partisan divide. Mentioned "Reagan Democrats" specifically. Said that, with changing times, there are Dems in the district looking for alternatives, and that simply being nice is the first thing you gotta be if you hope to get their ear. If you've got their ear, and you're positive, there may be mutual ground to be found, he thinks.

A consistently positive campaign would be a somewhat rare tactic in the GOP's 24-year-quest to unseat Mr. Evans. Might be a good time to try it.

Mr. Mowen's handout is positive, too, though I do feel a bit uneasy with the part where he says "I pledge to aggressively uphold the Constitution, the American Flag, the Pledge of Allegiance and the Judeo-Christian morals and beliefs upon which this wonderful country was built." Nothing wrong with any of that, generally. But hope he's not confused about the differences among theology, politics and governing. Government decisions made on theological grounds most always lead to civil evils.

Two of the many GOP gubernatorial hopefuls were on hand. Bill Brady and Jim Oberweiss both spoke unkindly of Rod Blagojevich's record, which is a pretty fat target these days. Both are eager to talk about the state's economy, the state of its budget and its pension funds.
Good topics, all.

Mr. Oberweiss, who owns a dairy and a chain of ice cream stores, brought treats for all. Pretty tasty stuff, but I'm thinking Whitey's is still the best.

Posted by jcb at September 15, 2005 10:16 PM


I hear you are something of a Whitey's expert

Posted by: Anonymous at September 16, 2005 09:35 AM

You are correct to say that a positive campaign against Mr. Evans would be a good idea. Surely the GOP can see that beating him up just makes his loyal followers even more determined.

In addition, the Republicans should try to run someone with more of a resume than a career of reading the news in front of a camera.

Posted by: Anonymous at September 16, 2005 09:54 AM

I don't know what the concensus is in Cong. Evans' base in the Q-C, but I can tell you that his voice is important to Vets, and others in Central Illinois. I can also tell you that Andrea Zinga ran a really sad campaign, and the GOP would be wise to look elsewhere, unless they just want to run a pretty candidate.

Good Blog, I just found it. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Mike Wilson at September 19, 2005 10:43 AM

I think that this Jim Mowen has some good things to say, especially his statement that there is an ultra-left, an ultra-right, but that 95% of us live in the middle - and care about issues such as jobs, a safe community, a good education for our children, the cost of health care, etc.
And that kid of his is awefully cute!

Posted by: Jim Mowen at September 21, 2005 06:51 PM


Your 'in the middle' percentage may be a bit high, but just a bit. And, yes, the kid is cute.

Have a question, now. QC Times quoted you from announcement press conference as saying Lane Evans "has not voted in a manner that represents the values of the district."

That suggestion -- charge, nearly -- has been consistent in every GOP campaign against Evans, going back to the first in 1982.

The question: How do you explain that many people voting against their values that many times?

A bit of history, as you ponder. Evans took the seat from the Republicans in what was at least a margainly Republican district. No Democrat had a prayer without a huge edge in R.I. County. That wasn't possible because Republican Tom Railsback was sensitive to the views of labor, and many of the county's blue-collars supported him throughout his career.

The conservative State Sen. Ken McMillan took Railsback out in the '82 GOP primary. Mr. McMillan had pertinent experience, he was intelligent, intellectual and articulate. But the blue-collars deserted the GOP in droves in favor of Evans -- they had been voting for a man and his positions rather than for a party.

The district's boundaries have been twice re-drawn since '82, the demographics, in R.I. County and elsewhere, have shifted -- not nearly so many blue collars these days, for one giant example. Through all the change, a constant has been majority support for Evans. How to explain that, if he doesn't vote the values of the district.

Posted by: jcb at September 22, 2005 01:11 PM

Good question and one I've also wondered. Most people must think Evans represents them well, or they wouldn't keep voting for him.

Another thing I've often wondered: Back when Jim Leach was the GOP congressperson across the river, he and Evans often -- I mean often -- voted the same on many issues. But the GOP in Illinois kept beating Evans up as too liberal. So what did that make Republican Leach?

Posted by: Vita at September 23, 2005 09:53 AM