By DOUG IBENDAHL • October 27, 2006
Just when Republicans thought their Illinois Party couldn’t get worse, Angelo “Skip” Saviano steps things up a notch.
In the near-western suburbs of Chicago, Republicans have a tremendous candidate running for the Illinois State Senate in Jim Rowe. Rowe supports the Republican Party’s principles, and is not only one of the best Republican candidates we have seen in years – he’s the face of new leadership our Illinois Party desperately needs.
Rowe is running for the State Senate seat currently held by Democrat Don Harmon of Oak Park. Harmon is not only one of the most liberal Democrats in the State Senate – his political allies are some of the most corrupt Democrats in Illinois politics.
But one of Harmon’s closest allies keeps an ‘R’ by his name – Skip Saviano. Harmon and Saviano are so close – they even share a district office. And the two printed joint political signage for use in the parades where their supporters march together. Maybe Saviano would call his activities “bi-partisan.” We’ll call it what it is – being a Benedict Arnold and a sell-out.
So it was no surprise that when Rowe decided to run against Harmon, Saviano first tried to discourage Rowe’s candidacy. Rowe refused, and ever since he has had to pay for his brave, principled decision.
Rowe is actually being punished for trying to build the Republican Party in a historically Democrat stronghold.
Saviano continues to work against him. Here are just some of the latest disgraceful tactics.
Earlier this month, several mental health organizations held a summit, and both Rowe and Harmon were invited. Rowe attended, Harmon did not. But Saviano, a Republican State Representative, member of the Republican state house leadership team, and member of the GOP’s State Central Committee, was the surrogate speaker for Democrat Harmon!
Yes, that right. A Republican elected official and a senior State Party official spoke on behalf of a liberal Democrat and against a good Republican.
But that’s not all.
A suburban “Republican” organization in Saviano’s district recently held a breakfast for precinct committeeman and volunteers. Saviano is one of the leaders of this organization – it’s essentially the Leyden Township GOP group. These early morning meetings, held on the weekend, are to provide precinct committeeman and volunteers with packets of candidate walk pieces to work their neighborhoods on behalf of candidates.
But Rowe was told that his literature – and again Rowe is the REPUBLICAN candidate for the State Senate in Saviano’s area – would NOT be included in the information packets being distributed.
Saviano is a close political ally of Leyden Township Republican Committeeman and Rosemont Mayor Don Stephens. Stephens is also implicated in this appalling betrayal of a good Republican candidate.
Another political ally of Saviano’s, Republican Cook County Commissioner and Village President of Elmwood Park Peter Silvestri is also one of these Benedict Arnold Republicans who is actively working against Rowe.
An employee from Silvestri’s government office recently told Rowe that all of his campaign signs would have to be removed from his town. Supposedly, Silvestri had received complaints about signs being placed on property without permission. Of course, this Silvestri hack couldn’t provide any evidence to support his allegation. Rowe on the other hand can provide plenty of evidence that he has personally reached out to supporters to obtain permission for displaying his signs.
These are mob-style tactics folks, pure and simple. It’s a disgrace that we have allowed people who behave more like goons than Republicans to remain in our Party.
A REAL Republican, State Senator Chris Lauzen, won unanimous support for SB600 in the State Senate last year. SB600 would allow every Republican to have a direct vote for their senior representative at the State Party. It’s essentially the same right every corporation gives every one of its shareholders. SB600 would just allow Republicans to have the same direct participation in their Party that the Democrats already allow.
But the bill goes over to the House last year, and Saviano killed it. He wouldn’t even allow an up or down vote. He wouldn’t even allow SB600 to be heard in committee.
Saviano’s first dishonest excuse was that Mike Madigan was preventing SB600 to come to the floor. But once we exposed that excuse as a lie, Saviano and his cronies switched to a new lie. They actually had the nerve to claim that direct elections would allow Democrats to gain influence in the Illinois GOP!
It’s easy to see why such a “leader” doesn’t want to face Republican voters in a real election. The only way Saviano can stay on the State Central Committee is through rigged internal “elections.” Given Saviano’s behavior – it’s no wonder he fears real democracy.
Skip Saviano should be immediately removed from the State Party’s Central Committee. Further, he should no longer be recognized as a Republican. As he’s decided to ally himself with liberal Democrats while working against Republicans who support Republican Party principles, Saviano needs to be honest and call himself a Democrat.
Saviano’s behavior should also be condemned by all Republicans. Republican candidates who will not stand-up on such an obvious case like this one also don’t deserve our support. House Minority Leader Tom Cross should act immediately.
We need to start looking for real leaders, men and women with backbones and integrity, to try and win back some seats in two short years. The brave men and women coming back from Iraq would be a good place to look for better candidates. We’ve got too many cover-up Republicans. Let’s find some people who know about sacrifice and who know about standing-up for something other than selfish interests.
Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.