When I first learned Jack Roeser, a conservative businessman, had joined forces with the Republican Party establishment in Illinois, to say the least, I was surprised. Perhaps a better word for my reaction would be dumbfounded.
Roeser, a staunch social conservative and pro-family philanthropist has been one of the most outspoken critics of many in the Illinois GOP's leadership for years. In fact, according to Roeser, those in the Republican Party's state hierarchy were akin to the demon seed. Though many conservatives like myself were aware of Roeser's rapprochement with Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady weeks ago, the Chicago Tribune's Rick Pearson just addressed the issue in a recent column written on April 17, 2010, titled, "GOP outsider Roeser now wants in: Conservative critic of moderate state Republicans seeks leadership role, throws support behind party ticket" http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-04-17/news/ct-met-roeser-republican-party-20100417_1_illinois-gop-tea-party-movement-sen-bill-brady and, to my knowledge, this was the first time the mainstream media reported on what can only be described as a significant turn-about on Roeser's part.
According to Pearson, Roeser contributed $50,000 to the Illinois GOP and is seeking the position of Illinois Republican Party National Committeeman. But much of the information contained in Pearson's piece was not a secret for those who follow Illinois politics closely.
For certain, there have been more than a few conservatives who have differed with Roeser's political strategies over the years. However, some say the founder of Family Taxpayers Network / Champion News, at times, was heavy-handed in his approach to politics, although few questioned his sincerity and devotion to pro-family principles. But what Pearson did not address in the Chicago Tribune story was the how, when and why behind Roeser's sudden apparent change of heart regarding a political entity which he often vilified.
Quite honestly, what I know about the inside workings of party politics in Illinois could fill a thimble, compared to Roeser's acumen in the many decades he has championed conservative causes and supported conservative candidates. Yet the operative question many are asking is "Why?"
Regarding Roeser's change of heart, Pearson wrote:
... he (Roeser) cites new party leadership and a desire to stop the circular firing squad the Illinois GOP had become. "Very simply, the Republican Party is very different than it was a short while ago...We have a very good candidate for governor in (conservative Bloomington state Sen.) Bill Brady and we have a very good state chairman in Pat Brady," said Roeser.
Pearson also wrote: Roeser credited (Pat) Brady for replacing the "old goats" who wanted to perpetuate their power in the party.
Roeser is correct when he refers to the state Republican Party as representing a circular firing squad in recent years. The old adage that says something to the effect that "Republicans eat their own" is most appropriate when describing the Illinois Republican Party over the last decade. But the second question I have of Roeser is "who?" Who are the "old goats" in Republican leadership who have been replaced under Pat Brady's leadership? The next question I have is "when"? When did this change occur? Was it after Roeser supported State Sen. Kirk Dillard in the gubernatorial primary, who was defeated by State Sen. Bill Brady? Or possibly Roeser came to this decision after Mark Kirk won the U.S. Senate primary, defeating Pat Hughes--who Roeser also supported? Perhaps these questions bring us back to the "why?" Could it be Roeser has come to the realization that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em?
But I suppose there is another possibility. Could it be Roeser believes he can have a greater impact on the Illinois GOP as an insider rather than being the perpetual outsider?
Or there is a third possibility that comes to mind. Did the Illinois GOP offer concessions to Roeser that could be construed as an "offer he couldn't refuse" to quote Marlon Brandon from the Godfather?
There is one absolute in this equation. Roeser has had a change of heart regarding his participation in Republican establishment politics, but many of us have to wonder what led to this epiphany. Just a short time ago, Champion News posted one story after another vilifying some of the Republican candidates who will be on the November ballot. In fact, as Pearson correctly points out, Roeser's Champion News website had an entire category devoted to the defeat of U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, which has since been scrubbed from the site. But the stories are still out there in the Internet ether and they leave many wondering how Roeser--who was vehemently against Mark Kirk's bid to win the GOP's U.S. Senate primary--can now actively work for his election.
Roeser is now a member of the Illinois GOP's Finance Committee which is responsible for raising funds to help elect candidates on the statewide GOP ticket. As a member of this Committee, Roeser will not only be raising money for pro-family candidates, like Sen. Bill Brady, but individuals who Roeser and his staff have maligned in the past, including Judy Baar Topinka and State Sen. Dan Rutherford who will be on the November ballot.
There is a long list of Republicans who have faced Roeser's wrath over the years, including GOP heavyweights like Bob Kjellander, Andy McKenna and perennial candidate Jim Oberweis--who, like Roeser, is a member of the Illinois Central Committee and is also seeking the post of Illinois Republican Party National Committeeman.
I haven't done much to answer the who's, when's and why's I speculated about here. I haven't talked to Jack Roeser about his new role and change of heart involving the Republican Party establishment--which he once believed represented the heart of darkness. But I know one thing. Many Republicans, no matter what their political leanings, are asking the same questions. Like everyone else, I'll have to wait and see what happens regarding these queries. Or perhaps we'll never know.
Anyone wishing to receive RFFM.org e-mails should contact: Dan@rffm.org
NOTE: Comments to RFFM.org's blog which include ad hominems or personal attack will automatically be rejected. No hyperlinks allowed.
How you can help RFFM.org inform America about political and social issues: