Many top Ill. Republicans mum on 2012 picks

August 18, 2011 8:08:56 PM PDT
At Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair, most Republicans at the party's annual picnic were undecided about which candidate to support for the GOP nomination for president.

Many prominent members of the GOP were on hand for a day full of events Thursday.

For as long as there has been an Illinois State Fair, there has been some kind of horse race involved.

"At least I know in the horserace here, I know who's runnin' and who hasn't been scratched," said State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.

"We're kinda sortin' through it, and I'm doing what everybody else is doin'," said Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross.

"The person in the Republican Party who can create jobs will be the one to win this election and the nomination," said former congressional candidate Isaac Hayes.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachman were names most often whispered by Illinois Republicans.

On the record, State Treasurer Dan Rutherford is Romney's state campaign chairman.

"I'm going to be putting together the delegates and we're going to be working hard to elect him the next president of the United States," said Rutherford.

Meanwhile, State Senator Kirk Dillard says he has "promised" to help Governor Perry.

"He brings a record of job creation second to none of any governor in America," said Dillard.

Other high-profile Republicans are waiting for a candidate to sign their dance cards. Conservative activist Adam Andrejewski, who raised money for Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty before Pawlenty dropped out of the race, is available.

"I'm sitting back," said Andrejewski. "The candidates need to make arguments to me, they need to convince and give me their pitch and we'll see where we go next."

On November 5th of this year, the state party will conduct a straw poll four months before the March 2012 primary.

"We want to see if we can get our energy together, get our troops in line, pick a candidate and do a dry run for 2012," said Illinois Republican Chairman Pat Brady.

"I don't think we have to choose our candidate early," said U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock. "I think that as long as the president has ... only beneficial to our candidates."

Illinois Republicans we talked to do not believe at this point they can beat the president in his home state, but they do want a sufficiently strong national candidate to help Republicans in local races around the state and, of course, to win back the White House.

During Republican Day, the party announced it would conduct a presidential straw poll on November 5th, one year before the 2012 election. The straw poll is to include all 102 counties in the state.

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