Illinois GOP tries to restyle itself

March 6, 2009 3:26:26 PM PST
Is a re-birth in the future of the Republican Party in Illinois?The GOP must first decide on a unified message.

Republicans hope that video of a criminally-charged democratic governor appointing another democrat to a United States Senate seat has angered enough Illinois voters to ensure the state GOP's resurgence.

"It's a shutting of the door on the public who decide we're an elitist bunch and you're not invited to help make decisions," said Judy Baar Topinka, former Illinois treasurer.

"That is the way they want to run government and I think people are starting to finally pay attention and resent that," said Rep. Tom Cross, House minority leader.

Only three years after their most recent governor's corruption conviction. Republicans now style themselves as the party promoting clean government. And then, there's that $9 billion projected budget deficit in Democrat controlled Illinois.

"They've run us into a hole and the only way they can think of to solve a problem is to raise taxes," said Cross.

Topinka - the last Republican to win statewide in 2002 - says the party can recapture its glory if it fields fiscally conservative candidates who are not driven by social issues such as abortion or gay marriage.

"They're not main line issues," said Topinka.

Fifth District Congressional Republican candidate Rosanna Pulido can't get party support and says she might be a casualty of the new way of thinking.

"Most of your viewers know me speaking out on illegal immigration...I think we have to put Americans to work first," said Rosanna Pulido, congressional nominee.

When the party won most statewide elections in the 1990's. The social conservatives were the Republican base. Political science professor Paul Green says now they fight the fiscal conservatives who couldn't care less about the causes.

"If you want to be for less taxes or less government your position on gay rights or abortion or stem cell researches is irrelevant," said Paul Green, Roosevelt University.

"Paul Green's right, its been a killer for us," said Cross.

But Cross is convinced that voter disgust over the way Democrats have handled state business will overwhelm the differences and unify Republicans.

But Cross hopes public disgust at the way Democrats have handled state business will overwhelm those differences. Still, Republican leaders agree that keeping the different conservative factions happy will be the most important factor to their success and they understand the clock is running. They must strike now with the Democrats in disarray.