What Resides in Us

2010 is not about where we reside but about what resides in us.

I have referred several times in this campaign to the “The Chicago 9.”

I coined the term to describe the nine Chicago Democrats who live within a few miles of one another and who collectively control $70 billion worth of government and 125,000 public sector jobs in this state.

The Chicago 9 are the ones who have fixed Illinois state government against you and in favor of the public-sector unions and other state dependents who support and sustain their political fortunes.

Who are the Chicago 9?

Their names: Pat Quinn, Lisa Madigan, Jesse White, Dan Hynes, Alexi Giannoulias, Mike Madigan, John Cullerton, Rich Daley and Todd Stroger.

These are the nine individuals who are responsible for Illinois’ economic decay, not because of where they live but because of the policy choices they have made to protect their political careers.

The failure of the Illinois GOP is not rooted in geography, despite what some of my opponents contend. For example, State Sen. Kirk Dillard said this on Friday during an appearance on the Don Wade & Roma Show on WLS-AM 890:

“I would think the Republican ticket would be strongest with Mark Kirk running out of Lake County, me running out of DuPage County…you want a Lake County, a big county, DuPage County of a million people…But I if were the chairman of the Republican Party, I’d want somebody strong running statewide out of Lake. I’d want somebody running for governor like me, running strongly out of DuPage, a Republican county of a million people…”

The strength of the Illinois Republican Party and our electoral hopes for 2010 turn not on some mythological geographical balance, but on the ability of our candidates from Governor on down to clearly identify our constituency and speak to that constituency with moral clarity about their interests.

Whether our nominees are from Highland Park or Herrin, Wheaton or Wood River, if we do not re-establish what it means to be a Republican, we will fail to take advantage of the script written for us by Blagojevich, Burris, et al. By presenting system change ideas on tax-and-spending policy, job creation, K-12 education, health care, transportation, and pension reform, we can succeed.

I wish it was as easy as Sen. Dillard suggests. I am from the same county “of a million people” that he is.

But running strong in DuPage or Lake has nothing to do with where our nominees reside and everything to do with what resides in our nominees—what we believe and what policy choices we would make if elected.

Our constituency is defined by what they believe and how they behave. That is why I have said my campaign is for “People Who Play By The Rules” in Illinois, no matter in which of our state’s 102 counties they live.

The People Who Play By The Rules are those who budgeted for the home they bought and pay their mortgage without having anyone intervene on their behalf to renegotiate the terms.

The People Who Play By The Rules are the small businesses in industrial parks and retail corridors across Illinois that create jobs and produce wealth but who are not “too big to fail”. They don’t get bailed out when they make a bad strategic decision or suffer bad luck in the marketplace.

The People Who Play By The Rules are those in the private sector who have seen the value of their 401Ks plummet in this economy but are nonetheless on the hook to pay for the guaranteed public pensions, often multiple pensions, of the politically-connected.

The People Who Play By The Rules are those who raised their children to take their academics seriously so that they could get into a good state university like U. of I. that was affordable for mom and dad, but who instead see their children pushed aside so that less qualified children of political VIPs may be admitted.

That is who this election is about, The People Who Play By The Rules.

GOP primary voters must ask themselves, who will take the fight on behalf of our constituency to the Chicago 9?

That is what this election is about, holding the Chicago 9 accountable and presenting a clear contrast vision for Illinois rooted in market-oriented, system-change ideas. Fighting the Chicago 9 to reduce spending, cut taxes, balance the budget, deliver services efficiently, and create a welcoming business climate is how we un-fix Illinois.

At least that’s who and what this is election is about for me.

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