Political conventions have always been tightly scripted and highly organized extravaganzas to showcase all of the party's stars from park superintendents to presidents. But this convention is so full of surprises, including canceled speeches, unexpected pregnancies and dramatically changed convention plans, all of which are affecting the delegates from Illinois.
"We're going to start a fundraising effort that will begin this evening. I'm pleased to tell you we already have $10,000 pledged to this project," said Illinois Republican Chairman Andy McKenna.
The Illinois delegation was spelling relief two ways Monday: by turning the evening's party, sponsored by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, into a fundraiser for a group the rebuilds houses of hurricane victims and, therefore, relieving the guilt of partying on a lobbyist's tab while people are suffering on the Gulf Coast.
"Unfortunately, one party after another, none of us need it for either our waistlines or the hangovers we have the next morning. It would be good to put the money in a more profitable and productive way," said Republican delegate Ron Gidwitz.
The abbreviated convention schedule is also affecting the Illinois delegation by knocking North Shore Congressman Mark Kirk off of Monday's speaking list.
"This is the hurricane relief convention. I'll be going home early, and we're loading trucks in Northbrook with relief supplies for the Gulf," Kirk said.
Meanwhile, some of the Illinois soccer moms who have been celebrating John McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a mother of five, as his running mate, reacted Monday to the news that one of those five, a 17-year-old daughter, is pregnant.
"The journey of motherhood can be a surprising one, and bottom line, it's not about the child, it's about the candidate, and she is the candidate," said Lake County delegate and mother Margaret McSweeney.
The convention was supposed to demonstrate that Illinois Republicans, although they have very little power in Illinois, are unified. They get along, unlike the arguing Democrats who run everything in Springfield. However, the script has been thrown out, and it is an opportunity to raise money for victims instead of simply partying. That could be more beneficial as they try to get back in power in Illinois.