August 18, 2004


Keyes says state needs an outsider: Illinois corrupt, Obama not for reform, he says (H. Gregory Meyer, August 18, 2004, Chicago Tribune)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes charged Tuesday that politics in Illinois is chronically corrupt and that Democratic opponent Barack Obama wants to control the system, not reform it.

Keyes, a transplant from Maryland who had no ties with Illinois politics before he was selected as the GOP nominee this month, said his outsider status would be an asset in deodorizing what he called the "deeply smelly" nature of public corruption here.

"One of the problems in this state is this whole political machinery, in which bosses and their little cronies act in the interests of their little cliques," Keyes said after a news conference in Chicago. "People tell me, `Oh, Barack Obama has challenged the bosses.' He only challenges the bosses because he wants to be one of them. He doesn't want to end that system of corruption. He just wants to take it over."

Making the carpetbagger label work for you hasn't succeeded since the 1860s, but it's darn clever. What does Mr. Obama respond: it's not corrupt, which is laughable?

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 18, 2004 4:16 PM

I still think Keyes will lose by 20 but this shows that it will be interesting.

Posted by: AWW at August 18, 2004 4:28 PM

I am laughing my tuches off at this one. Once again, Keyes gores Obama and what can Obama do? NAy repsonse he has makes him look bad:

1) Decrcy corruption--implicitly admit Illinois politics is corrupt; corollary--anger bosses whose help he needs

2)Deny corruption; allow Keyes to furnish clear examples; look like crook defending crooked system.

I still think keyes loses, but this is brilliant political theatre and it gives him the opportunity to help close the gap.

I did not know he had it in him.

Posted by: cornetofhorse at August 18, 2004 4:39 PM

From your description, it'll be #2; no matter how many clear examples are furnished, the press will not exactly be racing to make them front-page news. Instead it'll be "Insane Conservative Makes Wild Accusations! For more, turn to page Z19 (where we reveal they're all true)."

Posted by: Just John at August 18, 2004 4:54 PM

This was in the text of the e-mail I sent out to a group of IL activists (and two Keyes consultants) last night....(re: brainstorming for ideas for Keyes

"Here are some suggestions:

1. Develop and announce a theme - perhaps connected to Bush's opportunity/ownership society, with or without Bush's name.

2. Quit trying to "argue" the carpetbagger moniker. To deny it is stupid, so turn it into a positive. (Here is possible response to the attacks..."Maybe it takes a carpetbagger to free Illinois from the grips of Mike Madigan, Richard Daley, and the "Ryan wing" of the Republican Party")


other disconnected and possible ideas...

A. Keyes and other principled Republicans should Endorse Bludorn, and signal to the state that they aren't creatures of the Central Committee.

B. Promise to support Patrick Fitzgerald - and/or continue that process of cleaning up the cesspool that is Illinois politics

C. Quietly deride Thompson and Edgar as insufficiently supportive of his candidacy

D. Specifically reference Kass' "Combine", and run against it

E. Ignore/fire any organization / media company that had anything to do with any Republican senate campaign. The TV ads were universally bad.

Though I would lack the "production quality", I could produce better content off of my computer (and in my sleep). Who picks these media people?


Given the ineptitude of Republican consultants in this state, yes... I am taking credit.

Posted by: BB at August 18, 2004 5:03 PM

It's hard to believe that when a guy from Maryland tells Illinoisians that they're corrupt, the guy from Maryland will become more popular in Illinois. But you have to say this for Keyes, he follows logic where others fear to tread.

Posted by: pj at August 18, 2004 5:32 PM

How will Obama respond? Probably by telling Keyes of course he smells corruption: he was brought in by the IL Republican Party.

Who is under indictment? It's not the Democrats.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at August 18, 2004 5:39 PM

As I recall, a couple of Illinois Democratic ex-governors have spent time in jail. That said, both parties here are corrupt to the bone.

Posted by: ray at August 18, 2004 6:01 PM

Although I don't live in New Jersey, I'd put our politicians up against theirs in a corruption contest. Maryland - they're posers. To a large extent, Illinois politics is Chicago politics with some far suburbs (also known as "down state") that occasionally matter.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at August 18, 2004 7:20 PM

AOG: Can Illinois or New Jersey claim a former governor serving as Vice President taking a brown bag full of pelf? Spiro Agnew should have pled homosexuality -- might have saved him from a guilty plea.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at August 18, 2004 9:06 PM

Have to challenge AOG on this one. While Keyes (more than obviously) isn't a Maryland insider, it's (more than) laughable that a Maryland politician is crying "corruption."

Then again, Maryland politicians ought to know.

Posted by: jsmith at August 18, 2004 11:44 PM

Ray, who are these mythical Democratic governors of IL? Other than the current Blagoveich, there hasn't been any Democratic governor in my life time. You've had Big Jim Thompson, Jim Edgar, and George Ryan for the past 25+ years. Going back 30 years is a long time to dredge up dirt. Otto Kerner obsentisbly should never have been convicted, and Dan Walker was jailed for some S&L matter that occurred 10 years after he left office - if that is supposed to tarnish Democrats now, then someone should tell Dubya what happened to Neil.

AOG, the suburbs are not "downstate." The suburbs are known as the "collar counties." "Downstate" is southern IL - they speak with a southern accent and are St Louis sports fans.

IL politics is generally Chicago and downstate yelling at each other with the collar counties swinging their support. The mayor of Chicago is generally the second most powerful figure in IL next to the governor, but Chicago does not dominate state politics.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at August 19, 2004 5:16 PM