By John Kass
June 22, 2022
Is there anything like the heads of Illinois Republican Combine politicos exploding (metaphorically) as Combine candidate Richard Irvin’s campaign for governor fades just days before the election?
No. There just isn’t anything quite like it.
But it doesn’t smell like napalm in the morning. It smells more like a musky sack of frightened weasels.
I almost feel like giving the Combine guys a copy of the Rudyard Kipling poem that many of us were given years ago. It was a poem that parents and grandparents purchased, a poem on graduation cards for boys.
It was so very long ago, we could have been in some other country, a strange place, not this strange one. Still, you may have heard of the poem on the cards that begins like this:
“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you….”
But the Combine boys can’t possibly keep their heads. The heads are (again, metaphorically) exploding.
They’re blaming it all on each other and on Richard Irvin, the Aurora mayor and Combine Republican favorite for governor who is now 15 points down in the polls to the true conservative in the race, Republican State Sen. Darren Bailey, a farmer.
Irvin is the Combine candidate for governor in the June 28 Republican Party primary election. And after taking $45 million of Ken Griffin’s money to push Irvin, what do the Combine guys have to show for it?
And Griffin is out at least $45 million. What’s left?
Just wind. The sound of one hand clapping. Perhaps the sound of Ken Griffin’s teeth grinding.
As all this was unfolding, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Illinois’ own Porcelain Prince who was born on third base thinking he hit a triple, headed off to New Hampshire for some presidential face-time.
President Pritzker? What’s his campaign platform, closing schools and churches while keeping strip clubs and liquor stores open while killing small businesses with a wave of his pudgy pink hand?
“I’d like to nominate J.B. Pritzker as an early write-in candidate for the John Kass Golden Moutza award for his exploratory presidential trip to the East Coast,” writes Brian Gilmartin. “Considering he has accomplished very little during his term, other than kick the can down the road, it’s truly humorous he’s thinking of himself as presidential material.”
Brian, it’s not remotely humorous. It’s positively femurous. Pritzker fractured his left femur simply by standing still. And now he wants his presidential Commodius Maximus kissed?
With just days before the election, Irvin trails Illinois State Sen. Darren Bailey by at least 15 points in some polls. Donald Trump may endorse him, to claim credit for a Bailey primary victory.
The Combine boys are in full panic. They’re leaking on their candidate Irvin to media, whining idiotically to friendly news scribes that all will be lost if the Illinois Republican Party (for once) becomes conservative and tries true conservative reform; and they’re pointing fingers at everyone but themselves.
Fifteen points in that Sun Times/WBEZ poll is a big gap to make up in the last days of the campaign. And now there’s so much angst among the Combine that Irvin supporters are crafting desperate complicated fantasies to stop Darren Bailey from the Republican nomination for governor.
One involves all Irvin supporters jumping like rats to Republican Jesse Sullivan’s ship while they all sing songs of their virtue.
I just don’t think it’ll work.
Irvin’s campaign went sour when he proved he couldn’t handle simple questions from reporters, and after Irvin was quoted as supporting the militant leftist Black Lives Matter organization—not the best position a candidate can take—after BLM riots tore American cities, including Aurora, apart.
“Republican” Irvin has also developed another awkward habit for a candidate seeking Republican voter support: He’s voted repeatedly in Democratic Party primaries.
I hate to say I told you so, but didn’t I warn Griffin about the Combine consultants? I offered Griffin a plan for a political hat-trick, and I didn’t want his money. Did he listen? No.
The consultants locked their wings and circled on the high thermals, and then when they realized Griffin eager to rid the state of Pritzker, they saw a bag of meat. They swooped down on him and brought Irvin.
They took Griffin’s money and I talked about this on the Chicago Way podcast, with my friend and co-host Jeff Carlin, and guest, pollster Rod McCulloch @IlPollster.
The Combine, the Republican establishment partners of the Illinois Democrats, fear losing influence. And now with Irvin imploding, I figure it won’t be long before the Combine starts sniffing around the Chicago mayoral race.
They don’t much like Paul Vallas either. He’s running for mayor, but hasn’t received the big campaign checks. The oligarchs don’t like him because they can’t buy him. They’re rather like that horrid creature in “The Hobbit,” the Gollum. They treat Chicago politics as their “precious.”
My spidey-sense is tingling, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Combine found a way to block Vallas with some pink, matronly Combine housekeeper, now that they’re losing the governor’s race.
We talk about this on The Chicago Way, and about Irvin and the Combine and Griffin’s miscalculations. Here’s the link. Hope you listen and share. For right now, what about the race for governor?
“One of the problems we get in politics, you get wealthy individuals who’ve been successful in business, or other ventures, and they just assume they know what they’re doing in politics,” McCulloch said. “They don’t realize I guess that getting people elected, or being a consultant is an actual profession, something that you develop skills in over time. It’s not the first time we’ve seen wealthy people in Illinois politics come to try and take over a primary election…”
He mentioned Democrat Blair Hull who was seeking election to the U.S. Senate seat once held by conservative Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald. Combine Republicans refused to endorse Fitzgerald, the incumbent corruption-busting conservative Senator, for re-election.
Convicted pedophile, Combine Republican and then Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Dennis Hastert hated Fitzgerald for wanting to select corruption fighting federal prosecutors in Illinois. So Fitzgerald, the incumbent, was not endorsed by his own party and he left politics.
On the Democrat side, Blair Hull was in Barack Obama’s way. And “reformer” Obama had cozied up to the Daleys, so Hull was taken out too. And all those in Obama’s way, including Republican Jack Ryan, were excised one way or another.
Play politics in Illinois for just a few minutes, and you’ll need a bath of antibiotics.
“Some of the money people thought they could bring in a candidate for governor in the Republican primary (Irvin) who had voted in seven of the last eight Democratic primaries,” McCullough said. “I’m not being that critical of the candidate, more of the people who thought they could foist that on Republican primary voters.”
But the Combine has always treated the public like chumbolones. When you have media reach, you can slap them around. I’ve seen it. So have you.
And the Combine has always been about control. Control of the election apparatus, control of the message through friendly media, including access to a once-great newspaper.
One thing Griffin didn’t figure is the conservative antipathy to Irvin isn’t personal, it’s not really about Irvin, but about Combine consultants around Irvin, and their easy access to corporate media that carries their water to undermine attempts at conservative reform, something that’s never been tried in Illinois.
Combine boss Jim Thompson had media support while deftly avoiding the Reagan Revolution, and Combine Boss Jim Edgar also had media support avoiding the conservative push under former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Illinois Combine Republicans were much more comfortable with Democrats like Boss Daley and Boss Madigan as Illinois and Chicago began circling the drain.
Consider Edgar running the other day to reporters to whine about the supposed danger of Illinois Republicans becoming “too conservative.”
All this is baked into Irvin’s bitter cake. Now he’s been given a fork and told to eat it.
“Some of these grudges between consultants go back twenty, thirty years,” McCulloch said. “Two things about that. There is that aspect of the cozy relationship between consultants and media pals. But also, these guys are more for rent than they are for anything else. You’ve seen for the last two weeks (media) leaks about the Irvin campaign s about how it’s imploding. So the other campaigns put out polling showing that Irvin’s campaign is imploding and then behind the scenes Irvin’s own consultants are leaking like rats leaving the sinking ship. Their loyalty is to the dollar bill.”
But isn’t that pure Illinois politics? Loyalty to the dollar bill?
Can Irvin survive the June 28 primary? I don’t think so, but strange things can happen. Yet if by some miracle Irvin squeaks past Bailey, can Irvin hope to secure conservative votes against Pritzker in a general election?
This election year that brings whispers of a Red November. Concerns over rising violent crime, rising inflation and skyrocketing gas prices are foremost on the minds of voters. With all that, could Bailey topple the Illinois Porcelain Prince and finally bring in some conservative reform to the state?
It’s possible. If there are other voices out there. Like Tom Devore’s.
Griffin knows how to make money. He’s worth billions. He didn’t know much about politics. He relied on Combine consultants to tell him and they didn’t tell him what he needed to know.
With all that cash available, there could have been a Republican challenger to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the protectress of Soros Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, the non-prosecutor.
Foxx and Preckwinkle have media protection, and an able wing-man in Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. I rather like Raoul personally. But this isn’t personal. It’s politics.
And there is no Republican challenger to Preckwinkle.
If conservative lawyer Tom Devore wins the Republican primary for Illinois Attorney General, he could make a case against Pritzker using the government/COVID hammer to kill business.
Devore could also make a case against Preckwinkle’s handling of the criminal justice system jeopardizing public safety, a case against progressive prosecutors like Foxx, a case against Illinois Democrats’ idiotic and dangerous push to end no-cash bail during a violent crime wave.
If Devore becomes the Republican nominee for Illinois Attorney General, he’d be running against Raoul for the post of the state’s chief law enforcement officer. Then things would get interesting.
Preckwinkle, Foxx, their Democrat allies among the Social Justice Warriors and hard-left public (government) workers’ unions would just hate Devore having a platform.
But would Combine Republicans ever push for conservative reform? No. They’d choke on it first.
The bipartisan Illinois Combine, like the Washington political establishment, has never been motivated by partisan political ideology. What motivates them is power.
As one explained to me at Gene & Georgetti years ago, “When they’re out, we’re in. And when they’re in, we’re in. We’re always in.”
(Copyright 2022 John Kass)