We have seen the GOP's genius in turning over the 14th congressional seat to the donkey party -- the seat once held by former House Speaker Denny Hastert. And we all remember how a virtually unelectable Barak Obama's Senate career was launched first by the sexless scandal that knocked out candidate Jack Ryan followed by the incomprehensible stupidity of giving the nomination to kooky Alan Keyes.
Now the handlers of the Republican Party have seized the opportunity to surrender the 11th district seat, once held by Congressman Jerry Weller.
First, the powers that be picked another sprinter for the marathon. New Lenox Mayor Tim Balderman, and choice of the boys and girls in the back room, was handed the nomination only to quite the race before the first mile marker. This gave the local county chairmen (especially Will County Chairman Dick Kavanagh, who has 48 percent of the weighted vote) the chance to hand pick the candidate on behalf of the voters.
Apparently they could not risk retaining the seat with any one of half dozen winnable candidates. Rather, they concocted a silly notion that they would auction the seat off to the highest bidder. Okay. They did not call it an auction, but they said they would only pick a "self-funding" candidate – the guy putting up the most money. That sounds like an auction to me.
So, Kavanagh puts his muscle behind a rich road contractor named Martin Ozinga. Money was so important that the boys and girls in the back room did not care that Ozinga does not live in the district. It’s not a legal requirement, you know, but usually a good idea if you want to win.
They knew the Ozinga family has lots of money to throw around because they saw past donations from him, his father and the company they run. Let's see ... there is some $25,000 to Chicago Mayor Daley, $20,000 to Governor Blagojevich and another $25,000 to the Hispanic Democrat organization, the street army and patronage broker for Hizzoner, the Mayor. They are in the epicenter of the corruption investigation by the U.S. Attorney, as is the Governor. There are also contributions to such Dem candidates as Gery Chico, Paul Vallis and Senator Dick Durbin, just about the most liberal and strident partisan guy in the U.S. Senate. In other words, the GOP backroomers are going to hand the nomination to a guy who's family is funding everything the majority of 11th district voters loath.
Why so much money to "the other side," you ask? No mystery there. Road building and public works construction are among the seediest enterprises in the state. It is pay-to-play.
So, take your pick. The Ozinga family gives these guys tons of money because he believes in their philosophy and governing style (Ugh!), or he gives it to get to the front of the line for those lucrative, rip-off-the-taxpayers contacts (Arrrrrgh!). Either way, not something the voters can feel good about.
Of course, this kind of skullduggery cannot be performed in public. As soon as the opportunity to blow this election presented itself, a lid of secrecy was clamped down on the process. Potential candidates were sworn to silence, and even they were not provided a lot of information about "the process." It was sort of a "silent auction," if you will.
Despite all this, there was a chance, ever so slight, that Ozinga could win. Politics is full of surprises. The GOP could not afford that risk. So ... some of the ideologues on the right have a great idea. They want to mount a write in candidacy. Since they would present a much more acceptable candidate to the voters, it is very likely that they can get a bunch of votes away from Ozinga -- the coup de gras.
The conservative thinking has three motivators. First, to punish (well deserved) the leaders for picking Ozinga. Second, to actually win the seat with a candidate more like the district voters (hope springs eternal). Third, to assure Ozinga’s lose because they see no difference, and then can come back in two years to reclaim the seat with a true believer. The fact that reclaiming public offices has not been a GOP strong suit appears to be lost on them
So, there it is. The perfect political "storm" to achieve the virtually impossible -- losing a safe conservative Republican congressional seat to a tax-and-spend, super liberal candidate who is a leader in the corrupt Illinois Democrat party. The 11th district could soon be represented by the type of politician most of the voters would not want living next door – and one of them doesn’t.