Category Archives: congressional seat

>REACT: Hastert loses his seat.

>Anyone who has every watched classic Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy flicks is familiar with Stan’s oft stated lament, “It’s a find mess you got us into this time, Ollie.”

Well, I say to Denny Hastert, “It’s a fine mess you got us into this time, Denny.”

You will recall from my earlier blog, I am not a great booster of the accomplishments of the former Speaker Hastert. Or shall we say, the lack there of. His allegiance to the corrupt and ineffective Illinois brand of good-ole-boy, backroom politics cost the GOP the Phil Crane seat way back when, and his own speakership along with the whole dang Congress more recently.

As if that was not enough for one career, now cometh the special election in Illinois’ 14th Congressional District –a race to replace himself. In an all too clever ploy, Hastert resigned to force a special election and presumably give a “leg up” to his anointed success. In a much more clever ploy, Governor Blagojevich called for the election to be held on a Saturday when everyone knows Republicans are at the country club playing racquet ball and debating martini mixology.

In promoting … nay … ramrodding Jim “The Milkman” Oberweis as his personal choice, Hastert must have assumed the 14th District was a “Mickey Mouse” seat for the GOP – a reference that suggests any Republican, even Mickey Mouse, would be elected. And why not, the pachyderm party has held that seat since Moses descended from Mount Ararat … uh … Mount Sinai. Ararat is where Noah beached the ark, right?. No matter. You get my point.

Actually, Oberweis is a great guy personally, but an abysmal candidate. For a variety of reasons, he has less personal shelf appeal than his ice cream. Candidates are supposed to be charmers in public and jerks in private. Oberweis has it backwards.

What makes former wrestling coach Hastert’s Olympic arm twisting on behalf of Oberweis so egregious is the fact that everyone else seemed to know that the guy is not candidate material. The previous three successive election day drubbings should have been a clue.

Looking at the numbers, it appears that defections from the GOP were as responsible for the loss as much as the advance of the Dems. He lost in the GOP precincts, including his own. Ouch! (<– I stand corrected. Bill Pascoe, of the Oberwies campaign informed me that his candidate carried his own precinct quite handsomely. My error. Ouch!)

Some say a fair share of blame has to go to the campaign team and the National Republican Congressional Committee for a poorly strategize and executed campaign. Many viewed the last minute desperation television ads as counterproductive. They seemed to seal Oberweis’ public image as a strident and pugnacious bully. There is not much worse in a campaign than spending tons of money to lose votes.

I cannot judge the culpability of the on-the-ground team and professional advisors, but those ads ended with the statement, “I am Bill Oberweis, and I approved this message.” So, I guess that is where the buck … millions of them … stops.

Because of the way this special election was (mis)handled, there is an automatic rematch in the November General Election. You know the old adage, if you do the same thing, you get the same result. There seems to be only two ways not to do the same thing. You either have Oberweiss step aside for a new candidate, or you credibly change the Oberweis persona. Note the word “credibly.” This is no simple task in the short time between now and November.

If there is to be a new candidate, it has to be a N-E-W candidate. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Hastert and Associates will use their influence to put a new brand name on the same can of peas.

When Denny left Congress, he said he would still stay active in Republican causes. I take that more as a threat than a promise. If he really wants to help the GOP, he might consider a more complete retirement.

As for Oberweis, he is a good and decent person, a great business man (love the ice cream) and a savvy investor. As far as politics is concerned, he can have a great future and do a lot of good for America… as a funder of good candidates and good causes. He can be the producer, not the leading man.

Footnote: Check out the photo of Oberweis and Hastert again. Don’t ya just love the angelic face and the halo effect? How can a face like that lose an election?