The state's Republican leaders have spent time trying to make longtime Democratic Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan a campaign issue this fall.
On Monday, the state GOP handed out "Save Illinois, Fire Madigan" buttons and unveiled a firemadigan.com web site to sell T-shirts, hats, coffee mugs and even pet wear.Madigan, a Southwest Side Democrat, has been speaker for all but two of the last 29 years. A
Madigan spokesman dismissed the Republican tactics as more of the same.
"Not much success then," Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said. "No reason to think their luck will change."
Illinois Republican Chairman Pat Brady opened the traditional breakfast of the state's delegates to the Republican National Convention by acknowledging that much of the time in Tampa will be spent about who might be in and who might be out of the running for the state's 2014 nomination for governor.
As he spoke in appreciation of those who won delegate slots in the March 20 presidential primary, Brady said, "I want to thank those of you who aren't running for governor."
Dan Rutherford, the state treasurer who also is delegation chairman, welcomed first-time delegates for the work they put into getting elected and noted that several delegates — including state comptroller Judy Baar Topinka — were old hands at presidential conventions.
"A few of us here, Judy Baar, have been to a couple of these in the past," Rutherford said as Topinka let out a less-than-enthusiastic acknowledgment. That prompted Rutherford to remind Topinka that her first convention "was not Abraham Lincoln's convention."
For former Gov. Jim Edgar, Tampa marks the eighth Republican convention he and his wife, Brenda, have attended. The state's former first lady has figured a few things out, Edgar said."(Sunday) night when we ran into Pat (Brady), he said, 'Could you say a few words?" Edgar recounted at the Monday breakfast. "Brenda said, 'Yeah, you ought to. That pretty much resolves it. I'm sleeping in.'
"And so, she's here. She's doing what probably we all wish we could do. She's sleeping in. She's heard me talk before," the former governor said. "I'm supposed to bring coffee back (up to the hotel room). That's kind of my No. 1 priority these days. She said she kinda worked for me the first half of the marriage and I'm in charge of working for her the second half."
George Cretekos, the mayor of Clearwater, Fla., stopped by the hotel to welcome Illinois delegates and note that they were in solid Republican territory.
"This county, Pinellas County, elected the first Republican to Congress in 1954 since Reconstruction and this seat has been Republican since 1954," Cretekos said. "So we know what our task is like you know what your task is come November."
Brady, the Republican chairman, said the mayor's name sounded like someone who "had a restaurant on Halsted Street that burned down." Brady also said he mistakenly thought that the Clearwater area had been represented in Congress by former Florida Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who was at the center of controversy in 2000 over the presidential ballot counting process between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
"I was thinking that Katherine Harris would have been the congresswoman from here but she was actually from Sarasota. (She) was the secretary of state in 2000 who learned how to count votes in Cook County. She did a fine job," Brady said as some delegates began sounding uncomfortable. "Hey, c'mon. You want to have some fun."