SB600 still very much alive but Tom Cross keeps Republicans disenfranchised – for now

By DOUG IBENDAHL • October 16, 2009


SB600 finally got the vote it deserved on the House floor today. Since the General Assembly is in Veto Session, a three-fifths majority is required to pass any bill. That means 71 votes.


In regular session, 60 votes (a simple majority) are required for passage.


After debate the vote was taken and there were 59 YES votes and 47 NO votes. (There were some absent members, including Republican Mike Fortner. Mike is an SB600 Co-Sponsor and would have been another YES vote. SB600 currently has three Republican Co-Sponsors.)


The Republicans voting YES were Mike Connelly, Chapin Rose, Ed Sullivan, and Dave Winters. Let’s thank these men for standing-up. They are on the winning side of history.


So while a majority of the House voted in favor – the vote still fell short of the needed 71.


The good news is that a sponsor asked for “Postponed Consideration.” That means that SB600 isn’t recorded as failing – but rather given the close vote, it can be brought back. Needless to say we all need to keep pushing harder than ever to get this done.


Tom Cross and his rubberstamps deserve all the blame for SB600 not passing today. Republicans got the same old Tom Double Cross for which the guy is now infamous.


The Democrats already have this same right to vote, so they had no reason to be the bad guys. As expected, a big majority of the Democrats voted YES.


The Democrats are laughing at Cross’ caucus right now. The Democrat majority got to be the good guys – coming down on the side of more openness, participation, and accountability. At the same time they were able to watch as Cross and his rubberstamps inexplicably went out of their way to alienate their own Republican voters.


Today was just the latest proof that Tom Cross is completely over his head. He has no idea what he’s doing. Some say the incompetence is deliberate, because he’s a Democrat. I think he’s just clueless and doesn’t know how to lead. Cross also clearly has a bad case of Mike Madigan envy. Madigan is highly respected by his caucus members and by Democrat voters. Cross is an embarrassment on all fronts.


Double Cross was also able to convince a few of his Democrat pals to vote NO. Deborah Mell for example voted no. She’s the daughter of Chicago Democratic Ward Boss Dick Mell and the sister-in-law of Double Cross’ other pal, Rod Blagojevich.


It’s hardly a surprise that some liberal Chicago Democrats love the status-quo in the Illinois GOP. The way our senior leaders are selected has given a huge leg up to Democrats seeking leadership roles in our Republican Party.


So good going Cross & Co. – you’re not only patsies for the Democrats, but for the gay agenda as well.


We all knew Cross would make a fool of himself today, but he also sent a couple of his lackeys to the floor to do the same.


GOP House member Ron Stephens put on his tinfoil hat and made some ridiculous argument that SB600 was a big Democrat conspiracy because one of the Co-Sponsors, Paul Froehlich is reportedly under investigation. Somehow the right to vote has anything to do with completely unrelated allegations involving a former Republican. Just silly.


For crying out loud, what’s the big deal with just an investigation? Right now we’ve got someone ON the State Central Committee who once TESTIFIED in open federal court that she observed criminal activity while working for George Ryan, and did nothing. She did so under a grant of immunity and was never charged with any crime herself. See here.


The point is – the childish attempt to make this good bill about Paul Froehlich or any other one person was incredibly lame and desperate beyond belief. Republicans want their vote back – it’s as simple as that. Further, say what you want about Paul Froehlich – and I myself have had differences with him in the past. But he supported SB600 for the right reasons and he worked in good faith on this reform – unlike Cross and some others.


Democrat Lou Lang also deserves Republicans’ thanks. Lou also worked in good faith and championed our right to vote on the floor today, even when no Republican State Representative would speak in favor. We can and should respectfully disagree with Lou Lang on many other issues of policy. But the core principle of one-person, one-vote is something all proud Americans should be able to agree on. The fact that some Democrats get it but Cross doesn’t – well that will always remain Cross’ shame.


Another GOP House member waging war against democracy on the House floor today was David Reis. Reis said the current system was fine because every two years the Precinct Committeemen get together and elect the State Central Committeemen (actually David, State Central Committeeman is a four year term).


Reis also knows so little about our party’s current operation that he ignored the fact that a MAJORITY of the 19 State Central Committeemen come from U.S. Congressional Districts located all or partially in Cook County.


I don’t know how many times we have to say this: COOK COUNTY DOES NOT ELECT PRECINCT COMMITTEEMEN. And that’s by law. So in a big percentage of cases, Precinct Committeemen are NOT picking the State Central Committeemen.


In the entire county of Cook, there are only 50 Ward Committeemen and 30 Township Committeemen. Some State Central Committeemen can be “elected” with as few as three or four of those “votes” under our current system. That doesn’t even resemble real democracy.


Our current system has also created all kinds of bad incentives. And it’s a bad system the Democrats love.


In Cook County, Ward and Township Committeeman races become all about just trying to buy “votes” for someone to get on the State Central Committee. And a similar thing happens in the other 101 counties. Many counties have less than half of their precincts filled with Precinct Committeemen. A lot of that has to do with a few party pooh-bahs deciding they have more power to select the State Central Committeemen if those lower spots stay vacant.


What Cross and his rubberstamps did today was to guarantee that the GOP machinery in Illinois stays broken down and incapable of winning a statewide election.


David Reis also claimed today that SB600 was debated and voted down last year at the state convention in Decatur. Again, I don’t know how many times we have to point out these lies and set the record straight.


First of all, there was no debate on ANY issue last year in Decatur. The thing was a rigged-up disaster. Proud Republicans who tried to speak on the floor were thrown out by private security brought in by the State GOP.


Further, today’s SB600 wasn’t even drafted until this year. Even if a debate had been allowed last year, the bill was significantly different then. It’s much better today.


Finally, the delegate pool was ridiculously jury rigged. Hundreds of dedicated Republicans were banned from being delegates to Decatur SOLEY because they were pro-reform (I was one such person who was slated as a delegate and then disallowed by the State Party).


In essence what Reis announced today is that not only is he not serious about cleaning up the GOP – he’s willing to hang his hat on a corrupt convention to perpetuate the dysfunction. Disgraceful.


Cross worked against Republicans and went out of his way to help the Democrats today. Does he honestly think he’ll ever be in the majority? It’s a joke as long as Double Cross is in charge.


The good news is Cross and others keep helping us make the case for SB600.


Thank you to everyone who has stepped-up for real reform. SB600 keeps getting closer to passage. Few thought we would ever get this far. Let’s keep up the pressure and let’s keep educating our fellow Republicans about the GOP officials who want to keep Republicans and our Party down.


Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.



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