John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Rebirth of the Illinois GOP

Posted on February 1, 2010

Today, the President unveils his budget, which will promise the highest deficit in history.  Tomorrow, voters in Illinois will traipse to the first primary of the 2010 election season.

While these events are not connected by anything other than coincidence, one will have a profound impact on the other.

Illinois voters, especially in the GOP primary, will have the opportunity to send a message to the President that his budget plans are unacceptable.

They will do that by nominating several next generation politicians whose political careers will largely be defined by how they deal with out-of-control spending that has come from the Democrats in Congress.

And there is a new generation of Illinois Republicans that are getting ready to take the lead.  The youngest member of the House is Aaron Schock, an ambitious politico who currently holds the seat of long-time Minority Leader Bob Michel and current Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Running in former Speaker Denny Hastert’s seat is his son, Ethan Hastert, who is only a couple of years older than Schock.

Adam Kinzinger, who is running in Jerry Weller’s old seat, is the same age as Ethan, 31.

And running for the Senate is Mark Kirk, who at 50, is an old-timer to these young guns, but in Senate years is almost a teen-ager.

All of these Illinois Republicans are campaigning on the long-term fiscal situation in this country.  All of them are getting some significant traction on the issue of out-of-control Washington spending.  And all of them, should they win, will be faced with the tough choices that come with declining revenues and expanding interest payments.

President Obama consciously invoked Abraham Lincoln’s memory when he started his campaign in Springfield, Illinois.  The imagery was inspirational, and because Obama was our first very serious black Presidential candidate, it was historically fitting.

But there was another Illinois politician who left another mark on our body politic who might serve as an inspiration to these young guns.  Everett Dirksen was the one who said “a billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you are talking real money.”

The Obama budget has hundreds of billions here and hundreds of billions there, and that budget is making the taxpayers very nervous.   The next generation of Illinois leaders, led by Kirk, will have to deal with this spending spree for the rest of their political careers.   And in the case of Hastert, Schock, Kinzinger and Kirk, that is going to be a long time.

Subscribe to the Feehery Theory Newsletter, exclusively on Substack.
Learn More