By DOUG IBENDAHL • November 18, 2012
Apparently some Illinois Republicans didn’t get the memo. Two weeks ago women went to the polls and sent a message that the GOP has a major problem. Many Republican candidates lost around the country – including Mitt Romney – in significant part due to a sizeable gender gap.
In response, here in Illinois some Republicans are now targeting a female GOP leader, and no one else. These Republicans – and big surprise, they all seem to be white males – are focusing all of their fire on Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, saying she should be replaced in that caucus leadership role.
For the record, I have also called for Radogno’s replacement as Senate Minority Leader. But at the same time I also called for the resignations of Pat Brady as State GOP Chair, and Tom Cross as House Minority Leader.
All are proven failures and it’s a given that all three should go. But it’s ridiculous to single out Radogno while ignoring the two men. It sends a terrible message.
In fact if I were personally ranking the three in order of who should go first, I would put Tom Cross as priority number one for ouster, then Pat Brady, followed by Radogno.
There’s no denying Radogno has been ineffective in her caucus leadership role. But at least with her one gets the sense she’s trying. Plus she doesn’t lie to your face like a Tom Cross will. There’s at least some sense of decency and honest dealing where Radogno is concerned.
Further, Cross has a much longer record of poor performance. He became House Minority Leader in 2003. Radogno has only been Senate Minority Leader since 2009.
Radogno also isn’t the one who has kept a Mike Madigan reject at her side for years as a top lieutenant. I’m talking of course about Skip Saviano, a lifelong Democrat supporter and funder.
Saviano was a loyal Madigan supporter for many years, but the two finally had a falling out. Two weeks ago a Madigan-backed Democrat took Saviano out. Come January, Saviano will no longer be a State Representative. Saviano has not only been Madigan’s right-hand man, he’s also been Tom Cross’. Saviano remains Assistant Republican Leader in the House, and Chairman of the House Republican Organization until January. Saviano has held both of those posts for years.
Meanwhile, Brady will still be welcoming Saviano as a member of the State Central Committee for at least another two years. And if we haven’t reformed the easily rigged system we have now for choosing the members of the State Central Committee by then, come 2014 a Democrat supporter/funder rejected by Mike Madigan will no doubt get another four year term leading our Illinois Republican Party.
Radogno supported the direct election reform in the State Senate. She was never the strong leader on the issue one would prefer, but at least she voted for the bill.
Cross of course has been the biggest obstacle in Springfield (along with his buddy Saviano) of the direct election reform. And Pat Brady rigged a state convention earlier this year to block the reform via that avenue.
So at least Radogno hasn’t gone out of her way to hurt our party like Brady and Cross have repeatedly done. Brady and Cross disrespect Republican voters and keep them voiceless in their own party, and then wonder why no one volunteers and why there is no ground game. Both Cross and Brady are beyond clueless. Their enormous failures at the polls are a bed of their own making.
Again, this is not in any way to suggest that Radogno should not be replaced as Senate Minority Leader. She definitely should be. But you simply can’t target Radogno while ignoring two more problematic male officials.
If the Illinois GOP proceeds down this course, someone should at least have the decency to hand out brown paper sacks so rank-and-file Republicans can hide their embarrassment.
On second thought, those sacks will only be needed for Republican men. There won’t be any Republican women left to worry about.
Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.