Category Archives: lasalle county

>OBSERVATION: Illinois GOP about to give away another congressional seat?

>Is it possible? Can it be? Is the almost non-existent, largely irrelevant and obviously dysfunctional Illinois Republican party about to give away one of their few remaining major offices.

I am referring to the buzz in the Land of Lincoln’s 11th Congressional District that the local county chairmen have pretty much decided to give the congressional nomination to public works contractor Martin Ozinga — solely on the basis that he is as rich guy who can finance his own campaign. This obsession with a self-funder is taking on the proportions of political madness.

The appointment of a candidate was necessitated by an earlier fiasco. Seems like the hand pick guy won the nomination, then proceeded to exit rather than face the glare of public scrutiny. This left retiring Congressman Jerry Weller with egg on his face, and the local GOP bosses holding the bag.

In their myopic lust for a candidate with deep pockets, the local leaders decided that issues do not matter. Of course, philosophy has never been much of a consideration in Illinois politics. Now even electability takes a back seat to spreading around money.

After Denny Hastert blew the 14th Congressional District by imposing dairyman Jim Oberweis, a self-funding candidate with less shelf appeal than his ice cream, you would think the party operatives would want to hold on to the 11th. But noooooooo! You would think that they would notice that self-funding doesn’t necessarily lead to victory at the polls. But nooooooooo!

I really don’t know Ozinga personally. Maybe he is a splendid guy. Can’t say. However, it does not take much of a look to know his appeal to the Republican majority in the 11th will be less than enthusiastic. One might say he is unelectable. So there … I said it.

For many years, there has been a lot of “smoke” surrounding the Ozinga name. And why not? Public works and road building have operated at the underbelly of political life. It is an industry that has been associated with mob influence. Not sure why, but the boys with funny middle names seem to has a fascination with trucks. The entire sleazy public works construction business is personified by Bill “Mr. Roads-to-Riches” Cellini (pictured), the taxpayer-made mega millionaire who keeps coming up as a person of interest in various federal indictments. Ozinga, himself, will have some explaining to do regarding past business practices that have surfaced in the press.

Ozinga is the classic pay-to-play guy. Why else would this “good Republican” and his family give tens of thousands of dollars to Rich Daley. Tens of thousands of dollars to the Hispanic Democrart organization currently under investigation by the feds. Tens of thousands of dollars to the prince of pay-to-play, Governor Blagojevich. Money for Dick Durbin, Gery Chico, Paul Vallis … and on and on. My mother always counseled me that if what a person says is different than what a person does, what they DO is all that matters.

There is no amount of self-funding that will get the rock solid Republicans in the 11th District, especially the conservatives, out of their house to cast a ballot for a guy who talks like a Republican at home and then funds their most loathed political leaders at the office. It appears that Republican stay-at-homes and crossovers were a significant factor in the loss of the 14th District. They were cited as the reason Democrat candidate Debbie Halverson got more votes in the primary than did the 11th District GOP slate — and she was uncontested.

Is there a lesson to be learned here? Can the GOP learn it?

It is said that those who the gods are about to destroy, they first drive mad. If that is the case, don’t stand too close to any Illinois Republican leaders these days.

FOOTNOTE: Did you pay attention to the map of the 11th congressional district? Districts are to be “compact and concise,” according to the law. None of those old time gerrymandered misshapes, sayeth the Supreme Court. So what is that “fishhook” hanging down from the middle of the 11th? In approving a lot of politically drawn congressional maps, the high court makes a mockery of its own ruling. So, what else is new?