Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Illinois GOP Picks Moderate Topinka To Win Back State House

Republicans in Illinois turned to a moderate, State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, as its candidate with the best chance of winning back the governor's office from the Democrats. Topinka garned approximately 38% of the vote in a 4-way race against well-funded opponents, all of whom ran as traditional conservative Republicans.

Republicans held the governor's office continuously from 1977 through 2003 with successive moderates, including James R. Thompson, Jim Edgar and George Ryan. Ryan, in particular, made greater inroads in Chicago than any prior statewide Republican candidate. He fought for death penalty reform and a state civil rights law for gays. Unfortunately, his administration became consumed by political corruption. He is currently awaiting a jury's verdict after a several-month trial in a Chicago federal courtroom.

Topinka was repeatedly lashed by her conservative male Republican opponents for her more liberal views. In particular, she was singled out as a "Pro-Homosexual Activist" because of her pro gay rights views. One conservative site writes about Topinka:

As she seeks to become the next governor of Illinois, it is crucial, now more than ever, that Illinois voters understand that Republican gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka holds extremely liberal values that are contrary to those embraced by the vast majority of Illinois Republicans. In fact, Judy Baar Topinka’s pro-abortion and pro-homosexual positions are in keeping with the Democratic Party Platform—and opposed to the national Republican Party platform to which she would seem to owe allegiance.

Topinka was knocked by conservative Republicans for participating in Chicago's Gay Pride parade and for her assistance in arranging financing for a gay-oriented community center in Chicago's Boys Town. She has also been attacked for being too close to the head of Illinois Equality, a gay rights organization, and its efforts to block attempts to enact a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages.

Topinka will face off against incumbent Gov. Rod Blagoyevich (D) who defeated reform candidate Ed Eisendrath. Although Eisendrath had little money for his campaign, he still managed to pull down a third of the Democratic primary vote, indicating that a high number of Democrats are unhappy with his performance. Like his predecessor George Ryan, his administration has been plagued by political corruption. It should be an interesting race. And it's good to see the Republicans nominate a person in the true tradition of the Party of Lincoln.

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