By DOUG IBENDAHL • November 14, 2011
A few years ago I gave Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross the nickname “Tom Double Cross.” It fits the Republican so well that I now regularly hear it used by rank-and-file Republicans all over the state.
Mr. Cross earned the moniker after years of refusing to stand up for anyone or anything beyond himself. The Illinois House Republican caucus headed by Cross in Springfield can best be described in one word: pointless. When Cross isn’t running away from the Republican Platform he’s helping the Democrats advance their agenda.
Tom Cross’ big accomplishment over the years has been keeping Republicans from having a vote in their own State GOP.
A couple of months ago when Crain’s Chicago Business political blogger Greg Hinz first wrote about Tom Cross connecting with Rick Perry’s presidential campaign, I let Mr. Hinz know I was skeptical.
Cross’ political Godfather is Dennis Hastert. The former Speaker of the U.S. House is firmly in Mitt Romney’s camp, just as he was four years ago. Anyone familiar with Republican politics in this state recognizes how inconceivable it is that Hastert and Cross would be on opposing sides of anything.
From the beginning it looked to me like Cross was just assigned to ride herd over the Perry effort in Illinois. The Hastert crowd (that includes others like State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, State GOP Chairman Pat Brady, and Congressmen Aaron Schock and Judy Biggert, to name just a few) is with Romney, but they wanted to make sure they had all of the bases covered just in case Perry made it to the White House. There was never going to be a serious effort for Perry in Illinois – and having Cross there would guarantee that – but there are 49 other states and you never know what those pesky Republican Primary voters might do.
But this was all back when Perry seemed like the rising star. As soon as Perry’s prospects dimmed, Cross bolted for the exit in typical fashion.
Now we have this new report today (as if Perry needed more embarrassing press). Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet called Perry’s campaign and Tom Cross, and got them both on record. Ms. Sweet’s report confirms the suspicions I had from day one. Read her article – it’s hilarious. In a nutshell, Rick Perry now realizes that in Texas you may get the horns – but in Illinois you get the old Tom Double Cross.
Ms. Sweet did some fine reporting, but even she missed the extent of the Double Crossing, as well as just how connected Cross was/is to Perry.
Below is a copy of an email Anthony Anderson, a Perry supporter, received from Tom Cross’ right-hand-man Kevin Artl last month. Anthony was inquiring about becoming an Illinois delegate for the candidate.
From: Kevin Artl <email@example.com>
Date: October 10, 2011 9:42:45 PM CDT
To: Anthony Anderson
Subject: Re: Rick Perry/Christine Dudley
Sorry I’m getting back to you so late. My wife and I had twins last week and it’s been a bit hectic.
We are definitely looking for Perry delegates. If you or others are interested, let me know asap. I am in and out of meetings tomorrow, so I will try to call, if not let’s connect on Wednesday.
House Republican Organization
Does Tom Cross really expect us to believe he’s unattached to the Perry campaign when his top staffer is recruiting delegates?
In light of the Perry campaign’s disregard for due diligence and given some of the individuals Perry has allowed himself to get hooked-up with in Illinois, Perry probably isn’t up for the biggest job in America.
Rick Perry didn’t just get the old Tom Double Cross – he sought it out.
Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.